What is the climax of William Saroyan’s story “The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse”?

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Vikash Lata eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story reaches its climactic moment when one morning while riding “the beautiful white horse,” Mourad and Aram accidentally run into John Byro. Byro is none other than the owner of the horse.

Byro instantly recognizes the horse to be his. The speciality of this scene is that each of the three persons - Byro, Mourad and Aram - present there knows that the horse belongs to Byro, yet no one admits so.

It’s clear to Byro that these boys had brought his horse. Still, instead of claiming his horse outright and accusing the boys of stealing it, he handles the situation with appreciable subtlety. He knows that Mourad and Aram belong to the Garoghlanian tribe, which is famous for their unwavering adherence to the virtue of honesty. He is sure that the boys couldn’t have stolen his horse for monetary gain, and that they would return his horse. So, he leaves only saying,

“Tooth for tooth, he said. I would swear it is my horse if I didn’t know your parents. The fame of your family for honesty is well known to me. Yet the horse is the twin of my horse. A suspicious man would believe his eyes instead of his heart. Good day, my young friends.”

Mourad, too, exhibits unexpected cool and confidence during the encounter. Not even the slightest trace of fear or shock can be seen in his face or manner. Neither does he try to slip away nor give excuses. Instead, he reacts in a most confident and unperturbed manner, as if the horse really belonged to him.  

How could he display such ease of manner when confronting the person whose horse he had brought without permission? It’s only because Mourad hadn’t had the intention to keep the horse forever or sell it for money. He was only passionate about horses, and after a couple of months, he was going to return it to Byro. That’s why neither Mourad nor Aram ever felt guilty about stealing the horse.

Earlier, we had heard Aram say, 

“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 we would never do.”

So, we see that the author William Saroyan constructs the climactic scene with great subtlety. Byro is absolutely certain that no member of Garoghlanian tribe could take to stealing or dishonest practices. So, he leaves without taking offense. Mourad and Aram, on the other hand, feel no scruples about stumbling upon Byro because they were going to return it to him.

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