How do the two Houyhnhnms react to Gulliver's speech?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The first Houyhnhnm to arrive walks around Gulliver and seems to inspect him; when Gulliver tries to reach his hand out to stroke the Houyhnhnm's face, the Houyhnhnm shakes his head and removes Gulliver's hand with his foot.  Another Houyhnhnm comes, and the two walk off a ways, appearing to converse with one another, walking back and forth as though they were "deliberating upon some Affair of Weight."  They look back at him quite often, as if to make sure he isn't escaping.  When Gulliver does attempt to go in search of a house or town, the first Houyhnhnm neighs so expressively that Gulliver seems to know that it means he is to remain where he is. 

The Houyhnhnms touch him with their hooves then, both his skin and his clothing, and they are very gentle -- to Gulliver's surprise.  He could hear them say the word "Yahoo" many times, and when he repeats it back to them, they are shocked, and they try more difficult sounds with him.  Finally, the first Houyhnhnm indicates that Gulliver should follow him, and he takes Gulliver to his home.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial