Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories

by Isaac Bashevis Singer
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How is nature depicted in “Zlateh the Goat”?

Nature is depicted in “Zlateh the Goat” as a powerful force that inadvertently makes things happen. It is due to the power of nature that Aaron is able to forge a close bond with the nanny goat he's supposed to sell to be slaughtered. And it is nature, in the shape of a cold, bitter winter, that leads to a rise in Reuven's fortunes as a furrier, meaning that he no longer has to sell Zlateh.

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Mother Nature is almost a character in her own right in Singer's short story “Zlateh the Goat.” She makes a number of very important things happen, albeit inadvertently. For one thing, she sends down a vicious hailstorm that forces Aaron and the nanny goat Zlateh to take shelter, where they forge a close bond.

Aaron is supposed to take Zlateh to the town, where she is to be sold for slaughter. But the more time he spends with her sheltering from the appalling weather conditions, the more he comes to see her as a pet rather than an object to be sold for money. None of this would've happened had nature not intervened in such a dramatic fashion.

The onset of a bitterly cold winter also benefits Aaron's father Reuven, whose business as a furrier had hit something of a rough patch. Indeed, it was precisely because Reuven's business was in trouble that he had no choice but to sell Zlateh.

But now that winter has arrived with a vengeance, things are looking up for the furrier. With freezing cold weather very much the order of the day, people in the village will need warm furs, the kind that Reuven will be more than happy to provide.

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