(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

My Name Is Aram, one of William Saroyan’s major works, is a collection of short stories that explores conflict between the personal and the official. Aram tells the stories as an adult remembering his boyhood in an Armenian American family.

In the first story, “The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse,” readers meet Aram’s magical cousin Mourad, who can steal a horse without penalty and without doing harm. In “The Journey to Hanford” the magical one is Uncle Jorgi, who pretends subservience to the official world, but plays his music anyway, instead of working in the fields. In “The Pomegranate Trees” Uncle Melik, lover of beauty, fails at his dream of growing pomegranates, but recognizes that the essence of beauty comes from within and is indestructible. In “One of Our Future Poets, You Might Say” Aram understands that a future poet does not have the approval of officialdom.

“The Fifty-Yard Dash” shows the folly of depending on the inner way without making a corresponding effort in the outer. In “A Nice Old-Fashioned Romance, with Lyrics and Everything,” Aram’s teacher, Miss Daffney, chooses official rules over personal affection. In “My Cousin Dikran, the Orator” a second-generation Armenian boy goes all the way over to officialdom, giving a prizewinning oration that is logical but wrongheaded.

In “The Presbyterian Church Choir Singers” Aram is paid by an elderly Christian lady to sing...

(The entire section is 402 words.)


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Suggested Readings

Calonne, David Stephen. William Saroyan: My Real Work Is Being. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983.

Floan, Howard R. William Saroyan. New York: Twayne, 1966.

Leggett, John. A Daring Young Man. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.

Shear, Walter. “Saroyan’s Study of Ethnicity.” MELUS: The Journal of the Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 13, nos. 1-2 (Spring-Summer, 1986): 45-55.