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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 402

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...

(The entire section contains 402 words.)

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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 in a church choir. Here, a talent that should express the personal is hired to perform without joy. In “The Circus” Aram and a friend choose the personal—the circus—over the official—the school—and receive milder punishment than they expected. In “The Three Swimmers and the Grocer from Yale” three boys find that they prefer the more personal, eccentric grocer to his more normal replacement.

“Locomotive Thirty-Eight, the Ojibway” gives Aram the backing of a rich adult ethnic—an Ojibway Indian—who pays him to drive his Packard and have fun, encouraging the personal, while saying that Aram is naturally mechanical—official—because he’s American. “Old Country Advice to the American Traveler” and “The Poor and Burning Arab” show immigrant Armenian adults who have lost their old-country authority, and the second-generation boys who have to adjust to allow for the personal. When “A Word to Scoffers” says that all people have to do is believe everything, suddenly personal and official worlds can coexist in humor and surprise.

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