William Saroyan Questions and Answers

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How does the author explain that the tribe is very poor in "The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse"?

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In describing the poverty of the narrator's tribe in "The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse," Saroyan employs stark, brutal, economic language to emphasize the depth of that poverty—it is as if he has no words to spare, much as the tribe had no money to spare. The short sentences—"We were poor. We had no money"—reinforce this sense. The statement "we were poor" is repeated twice as if for emphasis; the tribe is described as "poverty-stricken," and the narrator goes on to describe this poverty using superlatives—"the most amazing and comical poverty in the world"—which amount almost to hyperbole. The narrator is emphasizing the fact that this poverty was so great that it was almost ridiculous, being beyond the understanding even of the "old men" in the tribe, who could not understand how it was that they were still able to feed their children. The narrator also describes the tribe as extremely honest, which is born out by the forthright and open way in which their poverty is discussed—the tribe does not attempt to conceal their situation, nor do they steal or otherwise undertake devious methods to improve it.

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