Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories Questions and Answers
by Isaac Bashevis Singer

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In "Zlateh the Goat," find at least three examples of personification concerning Zlateh. Explain what human quality each example gives the goat and how each creates a feeling, or response, towards the goat.

An example of personification in "Zlateh the Goat" is when Zlateh is described as "astonished." While walking in the road is new and surprising to Zlateh, readers are not surprised or confused, because they know that she is headed toward her death. This contributes to the poignancy the reader experiences in the story. 

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Isaac Bashevis Singer's "Zlateh the Goat" is full of examples of personification, or points at which Zlateh is assigned human qualities despite being a goat.

For example, when Aaron and Zlateh step into the road toward the butcher's, Zlateh is "somewhat astonished." Zlateh's walk in the road is a new event for her, and her astonishment signals to the reader that we pay attention to its newness and unusualness.

"Astonishment" here also creates a sense of ominousness and raises the emotional stakes of the story. We know that Zlateh is headed to her death, but Zlateh doesn't. We have to watch innocent Zlateh wonder why her human friend would lead her down the road while we know what waits for her at the other end of that road.

Other examples of personification in "Zlateh the Goat" can be analyzed the same way: What human feeling is Zlateh said to have? What is the story trying to tell us by describing Zlateh that way?

Other instances you could choose from in order to meet the three-example requirement include:

  • "But after a while she seemed to come to the conclusion that goats shouldn't ask questions." What human idea or feeling is Zlateh having here? What does it tell us about Zlateh's behavior? Does it help us guess what she'll do next?
  • "But when her legs sank deeper and deeper into the snow, she began to turn her head and look at Aaron in wonderment. Her mild eyes seemed to ask, 'Why are we out in such a storm?'" Earlier, we were told Zlateh thinks goats shouldn't ask questions. What can we learn from the fact that Zlateh is now appearing to ask Aaron a question here? What does her change in attitude draw our attention to?
  • "Zlateh stopped. She could walk no longer. Stubbornly she anchored her cleft hooves in the earth and bleated as if pleading to be taken home." Here, we see Zlateh described as acting "stubbornly" and "pleading." What changed to make her act this way? What is the effect of this behavior on Aaron and the reader (who both know what will happen to her if Aaron refuses to take her back)?
  • "Zlateh’s bleating began to sound like crying. Those humans in whom she had so much confidence had dragged her into a trap." How has Zlateh's attitude changed from the beginning of the story? How does it affect Aaron? How does it keep the reader engaged in the tale?

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