R. K. Narayan

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With reference to R. K. Narayan's short story "A Horse and Two Goats," describe the way of life and language of Muni and the Red Man. Elaborate on their conversation to bring out the humor in the story in 400 words.

In R. K Narayan's short story "A Horse and Two Goats," the lack of communication between Muni and the American during their conversation aligns with classic comedic bits like "Who's on First"? While Muni is worried he might be arrested, the American prattles about being stuck in an elevator. The difference in their concerns is quite ridiculous. The farcical encounter and the end result highlight Muni’s exaggerated poverty and the American’s foolish amount of power.

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In R. K. Narayan's short story, the lives of Muni and the American (also known as the foreigner or the red-face man) are comically opposite. It's almost like they're caricatures. Through these exaggerated portraits, we learn about serious themes like poverty, privilege, and maybe even colonialism.

What kind of life does Muni have? It's not prosperous. He and his wife eat leaves. He's so poor that even among his poor community people speak badly about him. When he walks among them, he won’t lift his head up. As if we need any more reason to feel sorry for Muni, Narayan assigns him two goats that are too "scrawny" to be of any use.

It wouldn't be hard to argue that Muni is struggling mightily.

Then we have the American, with his car, cigarettes, and khaki clothes. The American, minus the gasoline issue, doesn’t appear to have much to worry about when it comes to money.

The khakis make Muni think the American is a soldier or a police officer. He thinks he might be arrested. Considering what we know about the American, we might say that Muni's fear is rather comical. Yet you could seriously think about why many people throughout the world equate Americans with punishment.

The interaction that enfolds between Muni and the American connects to other comedic bits where one has no idea what the other one is saying. Muni speaks in Tamil and the American uses English. The American is telling about being stuck in an elevator while Muni is trying to clear his innocence.

The ridiculous gap in subject matter could represent the gulf between the standards of living between Muni and the American. The American has power. Muni doesn’t. He doesn’t even have the means to acquire matches. To him, smoking a cigarette is a luxury.

The American ends up giving him 100 rupees. Muni thinks he finally sold his goats. However, the American takes the horse statue.

The American's purchase of the horse statue could be discussed as a symbol of how America tends to plunder other countries.

You could also read it as Muni taking advantage of the American. Maybe this is a moment where it's the American who's fooled and tricked. Maybe Americans aren’t so powerful. Or, if they are powerful, it’s for reasons other than their wits and smarts. Does the red-faced American strike you as a thoughtful, sharp-minded man?

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