Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Talking Horse, of Course!

Part IV
“A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms”

Chapter I
The Author’s next adventure comes after he is obliged to become captain of a ship, until his crew forms a conspiracy against him and sends him alone to the next shore; of course he does not know the country, but his first contact with life is with beast-like humans, which he later learns are called Yahoos.  At one point they surround him, but quickly scatter when a horse walks near by, and when Gulliver approaches the horse, he believes that the animal almost speaks words and is actually logical.

Chapter II
Gulliver journeys with the horse, which is called a Houyhnhnms, to its dwelling place, and the author believes it to be owned by another human, but that is not the case, as many more horses dwell there.  There Gulliver is shown more of the Yahoos, and he is horrified at the behavior of these animal-like human figures, especially how they eat; and by the way, this poses a complication for Gulliver because he does not eat what the Yahoos eat, nor does he eat what the Houyhnhnms do, although he does become creative with oats and cow’s milk, and later is able to eat meat by catching game.

Chapter III
Hours are spent each day in teaching Gulliver the language of the Houyhnhnms, which actually means “the perfection of nature,” and he is now referring to the main horse as his master, who is amazed at the politeness and cleanliness of his guest as compared to the Yahoos.  Meanwhile, learning the language has aided Gulliver in being able to answer many questions that his master has about Gulliver’s country of origin and how he came to imitate a logical being since a Yahoo is a most ignorant creature.

Chapter IV
The author conveys the difficulty the Houyhnhnms express in comprehending the act of “lying” or “false representation” because they only know the use of speech to be for understanding and receiving truth.  Furthermore, Gulliver is pressed to answer questions about the condition of Houyhnhnms in his own country, both the good and the bad, including that Yahoos ride horses or that horses are made more servile through castration, whereas his master is greatly offended.  Gulliver also attempts to explain certain sins of mankind, which also prove difficult for his master to grasp, as they do not have words for such ideas in their language.


  1. Ack! The illustration is disturbing! Before reading GT, I didn't know that the term Yahoo came from the book, but you can be sure I no longer use yahoo to describe my youngsters.

    1. I know! Isn't that awful? I had a teacher in high school that used to call us, his class, a bunch a Yahoos. Now I know why!