The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse

by William Saroyan

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The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse Characters

The main characters in “The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse” are Aram, Mourad, Uncle Khosrove, and John Byro.

  • Aram, the story’s nine-year-old narrator, is an Armenian American boy living in the San Joaquin Valley in California. He longs to learn to ride a horse.
  • Mourad is Aram’s cousin, who steals the white horse. He has a way with animals and is believed to have inherited the family “crazy streak.”
  • Uncle Khosrove is considered “crazy” and is thus believed to be Mourad’s spiritual father.
  • John Byro, an Assyrian farmer, is the owner of the white horse.


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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 538


Aram is the narrator of the short story. He is a nine-year-old Armenian American boy and a member of the Garoghlanian family, who live in the San Joaquin Valley in California. The Garoghlanians are poor and cannot afford things like horses, and they are too honest to steal, which leads to Aram’s confusion as to why his cousin Mourad has the white horse in the first place. He has dreamed of riding a horse his entire life, and this desire leads him to justify Mourad’s actions and keep riding a horse that is not his own—if it will take him a year to learn to ride, as Mourad says it will, then Aram hopes they can keep the horse for a year. The horse, however, evidently has other ideas; whenever Aram rides it, it gallops into a neighbor’s vineyard, leaps over the vines, throws Aram off its back, and runs away. It would seem that Aram does not have the way with horses that Mourad does, despite his love of them.


Mourad is Aram’s thirteen-year-old cousin. His family believes that he is “crazy” and that he has inherited the “crazy streak” from his uncle Khosrove. Nevertheless, Aram admires him for his way with animals and his ability to ride the horse. Mourad “borrows” the horse from John Byro by himself and keeps it hidden in a barn for over a month, but he eventually allows Aram to ride it, too, because he knows Aram longs to ride a horse someday. Aram’s innate skill with and affinity for animals is emphasized not only through his riding of the horse, but through his helping an injured robin to fly and his ability to keep John Byro’s dogs quiet when the boys return the horse.

Uncle Khosrove

Khosrove is Aram and Mourad’s “crazy” uncle. He is believed to be “the father of [Mourad’s] spirit,” though Mourad is not his direct descendent. He is a tall man who is always angry, impatient, and loud. Khosrove has a reputation for telling others to stop talking and ordering them to “pay no attention”; he said this even when his own house was burning. When he comes to Aram’s house for coffee and cigarettes, he says the same to John Byro about the missing horse. Aram’s mother apologizes to Byro by claiming that Khosrove “has a gentle heart. . . . It is simply that he is homesick and such a large man.”

John Byro

John Byro is an Assyrian farmer and a friend of the Garoghlanian family who has learned to speak Armenian “out of loneliness.” Aram discovers that Byro is the owner of the white horse when he comes to their house and tells Aram’s mother that his horse has been stolen. Byro relied on the horse for transportation; without it, he had to walk ten miles with a sore leg to get to Aram’s house. In the end, he chooses to believe his “heart” over his “eyes” and not accuse Aram and Mourad of stealing, though he notices their horse’s striking resemblance to his stolen one. His faith in the boys prompts them to return the horse to him.

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