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

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Look at the first paragraph of "Zlateh the Goat." What do you see? Hear? Feel?

The first paragraph of "Zlateh the Goat" describes the setting's weather. It is a chilly, but not freezing, winter day with very little snow. Such a day would be cold, but would not produce the bite that truly frigid days would. The background of sun and peasants conversing also add to the first impression of the story.

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"Zlathe the Goat” is a short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer. It was first published in 1966. It follows the story of Zlathe, who is a goat owned by Reuven.

The first paragraph of the short story describes the weather. When reading it, it becomes immediately obvious that the story is set in winter. The first indication of the season is the fact that the narrator tells us right at the start of the story that it is around Hanukkah time, which indicates to the reader straight away that it must be winter.

However, in contrast to previous years, the weather is not as expected. The narrator tells us that “little snow had fallen (…) the sun shone most of the time.” I therefore envisage a winter’s day that is cold, not freezing. The sky is blue, and the sun is shining. There are hardly any signs of snow.

When reading this paragraph, I don’t feel as cold as I would have felt if an archetypal winter’s day had been described. Instead, my imagination tells me that it is more likely to be just a bit chilly. Perhaps there is even a bit of a wind blowing, almost as if it was autumn rather than a day in December. As the peasants are mentioned, I can hear their conversations in my imagination, complaining about the weather and worrying about the “poor harvest of winter grain.”

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