In “A Horse and Two Goats”, how did Muni feel about his married life?
In the story, ” A Horse and Two Goats” by R.K. Narayan, the main character Muni struggles to survive. The setting for the story is harsh, rural India. Using third person omniscient narration, the story moves through Muni and the characters that he encounters. He and his wife have been married for some sixty years.
In India, marriage is thought to be for life; consequently, the divorce rate is extremely low. Muni and his wife were ten and eight when they were married. Now after sixty years of life together, the couple have settled into a daily, yet troubled routine.
Muni and his wife live in poverty in a remote Indian village. In his prosperous days, Muni had forty sheep and goats. Now in his old age, Muni has just two goats. Each day he takes his goats out to graze to avoid a wife whose temper was “undependable” in the morning. When he returns, his wife will have prepared a simple meal for him. Life is harsh for Muni and his wife, yet they are surviving. He thinks that he controls the home but actually his wife does—she will go out to work and “conjure” up a meal. He does not know how she does it, but she always does.
This elderly couple have no children to help them in their old age. Because of this, the village looks down on Muni. He has so often been humiliated that he can barely raise his eyes to face the towns people. To hide his humiliation, he even lies to a shop man and tells him that he has a daughter in another town.
Through prosperity and poverty, Muni’s wife has stayed beside him. Although she is gruff with him now, she is willing to indulge his request for a special meal. She works as hard as he does, or harder, getting up at dawn to fix his breakfast. Unfortunately, poverty has worn her down. Each day she prepares a packed lunch and hands it to Muni. Whether it is love or practicality, she wants him to stay alive. Frustrated by his ineptness, she sends him out the door, threatening him with no supper. Muni fears his wife, but he also know that she will in the end take care of him.
After Muni’s encounter with the white man and his fortune tucked safely at his waist, Muni hurries home to share it with his wife, thinking his troubles are over. Sadly, her first reaction when she sees the hundred rupees is to accuse Muni of stealing, threatening him again. This time she will leave him and return to her parents. Obviously, things are not going as well as Muni had hoped.
Muni’s marriage is important to him. He depends on his wife. They have been together for so long that it would be hard for Muni to imagine living with her. It is doubtful whether Muni will survive without his wife because he has lost his ability to manage on his own. Muni wants to share his good fortune with her, probably hoping that she will once again be proud of him.