The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse Summary

William Saroyan

At a Glance

In "The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse," nine-year-old Aram learns that his older cousin Mourad has stolen a white horse from a nearby farmer. Aram tries to ride the horse, but it throws him off repeatedly. In the end, the boys return the horse to its rightful owner. 

  • One day, Mourad rides up to Aram's house on a white horse. Aram at first has a hard time believing his cousin has stolen the horse, because their family is known for its honesty.

  • Mourad has stolen the horse from John Byro, as Assyrian farmer who lives just ten miles from the Armenian settlement where Aram lives. Byro suspects the boys of the theft.

  • Aram convinces Mourad to keep the horse for six more months so that Aram can learn to ride. However, the horse throws Aram repeatedly, and they return the horse in the end.


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse” is narrated by nine-year-old Aram Garoghlanian, a member of an Armenian community living among the lush fruit orchards and vineyards of California. One morning Aram is awakened before dawn by his older cousin Mourad, who everyone thinks is crazy. Aram is astonished to see that Mourad is sitting on a beautiful white horse. Aram has always wanted to ride a horse, but his family is too poor to afford one. However, the Garoghlanian family is noted not only for its poverty but also for its honesty, so it is unthinkable that Mourad could have stolen the horse.

Nevertheless, Aram asks Mourad if he has stolen the horse, and Mourad invites him to jump out the window if he wants to go for a ride. Now Aram is sure that Mourad has stolen the horse, but he jumps up behind Mourad, and the two of them begin to ride out of the little town in which they live.

As they ride, Mourad begins to sing. Everybody in the family thinks that Mourad has inherited his crazy behavior from Uncle Khosrove, a huge man who can stop all discussions and arguments by bellowing at the top of his loud voice, “It is no harm; pay no attention to it.” Khosrove once said this when told that his house was on fire. Although Mourad is not Khosrove’s son, this fact does not matter to the Armenians. They think that it is Khosrove’s spirit that Mourad has inherited, not his flesh.

When they reach the open country, Aram wants to ride the horse by himself, but Mourad reminds him that it is up to the horse. Mourad can ride because, he says, “I have a way with a horse.” When Aram tries to ride the horse, he cannot control the animal, and it throws him. The two boys find the runaway horse, hide him in an abandoned barn, and go home.

That afternoon, Uncle Khosrove comes to Aram’s house to smoke cigarettes and drink coffee....

(The entire section is 765 words.)