Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji

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Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon Summary

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon is an adventure tale that indirectly urges the reader to confront the destruction of war, the sources of human and animal suffering, and the dangers of commercialism. These issues surface naturally through the interaction of the characters. Although the story is simply written, the vocabulary is challenging, and Mukerji presents his book from varying perspectives. The story has three narrators: an Indian boy who raises and cares for pigeons; Ghond, a holy man who is a shrewd observer of nature; and Gay-Neck, a prized, quick-witted pigeon.

Now that Gay-Neck saw the enemy so near, he grew more audacious, and tumbled.
The young boy tells about the birth of Gay-Neck and describes how the pigeon grows up, learns to fly, and develops his talent for finding his way home, no matter how far he strays. The holy man teaches the boy about the habits of birds and beasts, the reactions of these creatures to humans, and the names of plants. He instills in the young boy a respect for nature and describes how nature is important for individual growth. The boy asks many questions about birds and animals, which the holy man patiently answers. Together they undertake a pilgrimage to visit the lamas, or priests, of the Himalayas. Ghond believes that individuals are strengthened by periods of time in the wild, when they are able to recover skills of observation that atrophy in city and village life, and that they must seek out solitude to heal their troubled spirits. The pigeon's viewpoint, when he later describes carrying messages for the Indian soldiers, is fascinating and introduces concerns very different from those of the human narrators.