How did Aram define stealing when he had to decide whether or not to ride the horse?

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hgarey71 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In William Saroyan's short story, "The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse," Aram, the nine-year-old narrator of the story, is torn when his cousin Mourad shows up on a white horse Aram knows couldn't be his. 

Aram's conflict is between his family's eleven-century tradition of honesty and morality, and his own desire to ride this horse, which is surely stolen. When he gets over the initial shock of seeing Mourad on the horse, he justifies riding it and keeping it by this logic: he feels that if he and Mourad merely ride the horse, they are not stealing. They're not stealing unless they sell the horse to someone else, and since they would never do that, he considers their actions to be merely borrowing the horse, not stealing it. Here is the textual evidence of Aram's logic. 

"Well, it seemed to me stealing a horse for a ride was not the same thing as stealing something else, such as money. For all I knew, maybe it wasn't stealing at all. If you were crazy about horses the way my cousin Mourad and I were, it wasn't stealing. It wouldn't become stealing until we offered to sell the horse, which of course I knew we would never do."

The cousins keep and care for the horse for six months before returning it to its rightful owner, John Byro. 

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