Why did the narrator of "The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse" believe that stealing a horse for a ride was not the same thing as stealing?

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Vikash Lata eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator, named Aram, belonged to the Garoghlanian tribe, which was, though “poverty-stricken,” revered for its honesty. Aram said,

“None of us would take advantage of anybody in the world, let alone steal.”

On the other hand, Aram was very fond of horses. He said,

“In the first place, my earliest memories had been memories of horses and my first longings had been longings to ride.”

To his utmost surprise, one early morning he found his cousin Mourad “sitting on a beautiful white horse.” He asked Aram to join him on a ride.

The temptation was too hard to resist. But at the same time, he was quite convinced that Mourad must have stolen the horse. It wasn’t possible for them to own such a “lovely” horse.

Nevertheless, Aram couldn't let this great opportunity slip out of his hands. It was like a dream coming true. Moreover, the horse was unique and “magnificent.”

Aram was only a boy of nine years when he had to face this ethical dilemma.

Saroyan must be praised for penning Aram’s thought process at that situation so convincingly. For a boy so passionate about horse-riding, it was almost impossible for him to reject Mourad’s proposal.

But before leaving for the ride, he must get rid of the qualms and scruples troubling him. With his childishly innocent arguments, he tries to overcome them. He thinks,

“Well, it seemed to me stealing a horse for a ride was not the same think 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 would never do.”

In this way, the little Aram examines his inner thoughts and reaches a conclusion that he was going on a horse-ride out of his love for horse-riding only. Neither he nor his cousin had any intention to make money by selling the horse. Therefore, their riding the horse couldn't be called an act of stealing.

Now, Aram was convinced that he wouldn't betray the ideals of his tribe and at the same time fulfill his wish to ride a horse. Told from the point of view of a child, the arguments sound really interesting and sincere.

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