A Horse and Two Goats

The Red-Faced Foreigner Character Analysis

An American tourist who lives in the suburbs of Connecticut and commutes to work in the Empire State Building each day, where he works as a prosperous coffee trader. He decides to visit India with his wife on a whim after enduring what he views as a monumental torment: working for four hours without air conditioning during a brownout in New York City. He comes upon Muni after running out of gas along the highway. He spends quite a bit of time conversing with Muni, but the men are unable to understand one another due to their language barrier. The foreigner represents American culture, and neocolonialism more generally. This middle-class businessman views “time as money” and understands the world in terms of financial transactions and amassing material possessions. When he sees the grandiose horse and warrior statue at the foot of which Muni sits, he immediately sees it as an object he must possess and assumes, condescendingly and through his own blinkered world view, that Muni must be a salesman desperate to sell the statue to a rich Westerner. With his assumption that he can buy anything for a price—even an invaluable statue with enormous sentimental, religious and cultural significance—the foreigner represents the rapacious, emotionless, and mindless urge to consume that is characteristic of a relentlessly capitalistic society such as that of the United States. Thus, although the foreigner travels halfway across the world with the intent to broaden his horizons by exposing himself to other civilizations, his growth in the story is limited, just as Muni’s is, by his blinkered world view and inability to appreciate another’s perspective. At the end of the story, the foreigner does more harm than good to the civilization that he endeavored to appreciate when he pries the horse statue off its pedestal and drives off with this stolen artifact.

The Red-Faced Foreigner Quotes in A Horse and Two Goats

The A Horse and Two Goats quotes below are all either spoken by The Red-Faced Foreigner or refer to The Red-Faced Foreigner. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Perspective  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Viking Press edition of A Horse and Two Goats published in 1970.
A Horse and Two Goats Quotes
Muni shrank away from the [foreigner’s] card. Perhaps [the foreigner] was trying to present a warrant and arrest him. Beware of khaki, one part of his mind warned. Take all the cigarettes or bhang or whatever is offered, but don’t get caught. Beware of khaki.
Related Characters: Muni, The Red-Faced Foreigner
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

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“Please, please. I will speak slowly…Can’t you understand even a simple word of English? Everyone in this country seems to know English. I have got along with English everywhere in this country, but you don't speak it. Have you any religious or spiritual scruples against English speech?”

Related Characters: The Red-Faced Foreigner (speaker), Muni
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“You see, last August, we probably had the hottest summer in history, and I was working in shirt-sleeves in my office on the fortieth floor of the Empire State Building. We had a power failure one day, you know, and there I was stuck for four hours, no elevator, no air conditioning. All the way in the train I kept thinking, and the minute I reached home in Connecticut, I told my wife Ruth, ‘We will visit India this winter, it's time to look at other civilizations.’”

Related Characters: The Red-Faced Foreigner (speaker), Muni
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“I don’t want to seem to have stopped here for nothing. I will offer you a good price for this," he said, indicating the horse. He had concluded without the least doubt that Muni owned this mud horse. Perhaps he guessed by the way he sat at its pedestal, like other souvenir-sellers in this country presiding over their wares.

Related Characters: The Red-Faced Foreigner (speaker), Muni
Related Symbols: The Kalki Statue
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“I assure you that this will have the best home in the USA. I’ll push away the bookcase, you know I love books and am a member of five book clubs…the TV may have to be shifted too… I’m going to keep him right in the middle of the room. I don’t see how that can interfere with the party––we’ll stand around him and have our drinks.”

Related Characters: The Red-Faced Foreigner
Related Symbols: The Kalki Statue
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“Lend me a hand and I can lift off the horse from its pedestal after picking out the cement at the joints. We can do anything if we have a basis of understanding” … He flourished a hundred-rupee currency note… The old man now realized that some financial element was entering their talk. He peered closely at the currency note, the like of which he had never seen in his life… He laughed to himself at the notion of anyone coming to him for changing a thousand- or ten-thousand-rupee note.

Related Characters: The Red-Faced Foreigner (speaker), Muni
Related Symbols: The Kalki Statue
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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The Red-Faced Foreigner Character Timeline in A Horse and Two Goats

The timeline below shows where the character The Red-Faced Foreigner appears in A Horse and Two Goats. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
A Horse and Two Goats
Colonialism and Neocolonialism  Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Spirituality  Theme Icon
...only to stop abruptly in front of Muni after running out of gas. A “red-faced foreigner” lumbers out of the car, questioning Muni as to whether there is a gas station... (full context)
Perspective  Theme Icon
Colonialism and Neocolonialism  Theme Icon
Muni, not understanding the foreigner’s English, asserts defensively that the two goats nearby are indeed his, although many slanderous people... (full context)
Perspective  Theme Icon
Colonialism and Neocolonialism  Theme Icon
The foreigner tells Muni (although Muni has no idea what he is saying) that he decided to... (full context)
Colonialism and Neocolonialism  Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Spirituality  Theme Icon
Linear vs. Cyclical Time  Theme Icon
Muni tries to make an excuse to leave, thoroughly mystified by the foreigner’s conversation, but the foreigner detains him, questioning him as to whether the statue belongs to... (full context)
Perspective  Theme Icon
Colonialism and Neocolonialism  Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Spirituality  Theme Icon
The foreigner marvels at Muni’s Tamil as one would take delight in a sideshow attraction. Yet, the... (full context)
Materialism vs. Spirituality  Theme Icon
Linear vs. Cyclical Time  Theme Icon
Once again misunderstanding the foreigner’s reference to the statue that stands beside the highway, Muni begins to explain its mythological... (full context)
Perspective  Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Spirituality  Theme Icon
Linear vs. Cyclical Time  Theme Icon
...the meaning of Muni’s speech and the religious and cultural significance of the statue, the foreigner begins outlining a plan to rearrange his other material possessions, such as piles of books... (full context)
Perspective  Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Spirituality  Theme Icon
Linear vs. Cyclical Time  Theme Icon
The foreigner, becoming even more restless, states that “we have come to the point where we should... (full context)
Perspective  Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Spirituality  Theme Icon
Linear vs. Cyclical Time  Theme Icon
...returns home triumphant, informing his wife that he has managed to sell his goats. The foreigner continues to wait confusedly by the highway, assuming that Muni has gone to fetch help.... (full context)