The symbol of The Kalki Statue in A Horse and Two Goats from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

A Horse and Two Goats

The Kalki Statue Symbol Analysis

The Kalki Statue  Symbol Icon

The most important symbol in the story is the horse and warrior statue on whose pedestal Muni enjoys sitting and watching the highway. The warrior statue represents Kalki, the final avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, who will arrive at the end of the Kali Yuga (or the darkest age of humanity) as a messiah to save the virtuous and destroy the hopelessly benighted world and its ignorant, amoral people. The horse statue at Kalki’s side alludes to traditional religious iconography of Kalki, in which he is shown riding a white steed and brandishing a flaming sword. In the story, the statue represents a facet of Indian culture that deals with Hindu spirituality and storytelling in which the notion of cyclical time is essential. The myth of Kalki himself and much of Hindu mythology, in fact, relies on the notion of cyclical time; in the Kalki myth, the messiah must end the Kali Yuga and return the world to the first age, Satya Yuga (the age of truth), thereby restarting the cycle of time. In fact, the statue’s appearance even hints at this cyclical conception of time in that the horse’s tail appears as a loop. These qualities align the statue with Muni himself, who also represents these facets of Indian culture.

The fact that the foreigner believes he can purchase the statue, and his condescending assumption that Muni is merely a “peddler” desperate to sell the statue to a wealthy Westerner, signifies the foreigner’s alignment with American neocolonialism, materialism and conceptions of linear time in which time is a valuable, finite resource. The statue, which is an invaluable artifact that has enormous historical, cultural and sentimental significance, is effectively stripped of these non-monetary forms of value when the foreigner believes he is purchasing the statue for 100 rupees, pries it off its pedestal and packs it into his station wagon. Despite its significance, the foreigner sees the horse statue as merely a “pretty object” he will show off to his friends at cocktail parties. At the end of the story, the foreigner drives off with the statue, still unaware of its multifaceted significance, regardless of Muni’s attempt to narrate its mythology to him. The fact that the foreigner believes that he can purchase the statue (when, in fact, he is stealing it) demonstrates that, despite traveling half a world away to expose himself to other civilizations, he is unable to appreciate the beauty and nuance of Indian culture because he sees it through the narrow lens of his own cultural milieu in which money talks, time is in short supply and one’s acquisition of material objects is the primary concern. 

The foreigner’s ignorance, selfishness and materialism seem to suggest the statue’s reference to the darkness of the Kali Yuga and the need for Kalki, the messiah, to return the world to the Satya Yuga. Another detail that relates to the degradation of the Kali Yuga are the “jewels” on the chest of the warrior, which the narrator describes as “faded blobs of mud” but which Muni remembers as once “shining like the nine gems” of Hindu astrology, which correspond with the nine planets. The statue’s gradual degradation (and the degradation of the jewels) parallels the deterioration of the world as it sinks further and further into the abyss of the Kali Yuga.

The Kalki Statue Quotes in A Horse and Two Goats

The A Horse and Two Goats quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Kalki Statue . 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
Only on the outskirts [of the village] did he lift his head and look up… He sat on [the statue’s] pedestal for the rest of the day. The advantage of this was that he could watch the highway and see the lorries and buses pass through to the hills, and it gave him a sense of belonging to a larger world.
Related Characters: Muni
Related Symbols: The Kalki Statue , The Highway
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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The horse was nearly life-size, moulded out of clay, baked, burnt, and brightly coloured, and reared its head proudly, prancing its forelegs in the air and flourishing its tail in a loop; beside the horse stood a warrior... None in the village remembered the splendours no one noticed its existence. Even Muni, who spent all his waking hours at its foot, never bothered to look up… This statue had been closer to the population of the village at one time, when this spot bordered the village; but when the highway was laid through (or perhaps when the tank and wells dried up completely here) the village moved a couple of miles inland.
Related Characters: Muni
Related Symbols: The Kalki Statue , The Highway
Page Number: 11-12
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

"This is our guardian, it means death to our adversaries. At the end of Kali Yuga, this world and all other worlds will be destroyed, and the Redeemer will come in the shape of a horse called 'Kalki'; this horse will come to life and gallop and trample down all bad men… [T]he oceans are going to close over the earth in a huge wave and swallow us—this horse will grow bigger than the biggest wave and carry on its back only the good people and kick into the floods the evil ones.”

Related Characters: Muni (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Kalki Statue
Page Number: 19-20
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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The Kalki Statue Symbol Timeline in A Horse and Two Goats

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Kalki Statue 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
Perspective  Theme Icon
Colonialism and Neocolonialism  Theme Icon
Relations Between Men and Women  Theme Icon
...graze near the highway while he sat, watching them, at the foot of a clay statue of a horse and warrior. Muni’s wife takes care of him by cooking him breakfast... (full context)
Perspective  Theme Icon
Relations Between Men and Women  Theme Icon
...spot, an area beside the highway that is the site of an old and grandiose statue of a horse and warrior, his mood gradually improves as he finally feels “a sense... (full context)
Colonialism and Neocolonialism  Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Spirituality  Theme Icon
...only English and Muni speaks only Tamil. Abruptly, the foreigner looks up at the horse statue and becomes utterly entranced by it, exclaiming “Marvelous!” repeatedly. Muni is afraid of the foreigner,... (full context)
Perspective  Theme Icon
Colonialism and Neocolonialism  Theme Icon
...The foreigner continues with an unrelated conversation, asserting that Muni must know when the horse statue was made and expressing dismay and surprise that Muni speaks no English as he has... (full context)
Colonialism and Neocolonialism  Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Spirituality  Theme Icon
Linear vs. Cyclical Time  Theme Icon
...by the foreigner’s conversation, but the foreigner detains him, questioning him as to whether the statue belongs to him; the foreigner assumes that Muni is “like other souvenir sellers in this... (full context)
Perspective  Theme Icon
Colonialism and Neocolonialism  Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Spirituality  Theme Icon
...Yet, the foreigner assumes that Muni’s chatter is just “sales talk” to promote the horse statue, which the foreigner assures Muni is not necessary. Muni explains apologetically to the foreigner that... (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 and religious significance. He... (full context)
Perspective  Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Spirituality  Theme Icon
Linear vs. Cyclical Time  Theme Icon
Ignorant of 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... (full context)
Perspective  Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Spirituality  Theme Icon
Linear vs. Cyclical Time  Theme Icon
...point where we should be ready to talk business” and flourishes 100 rupees for the statue in front of Muni. Muni has never seen so much money in his life. Thinking... (full context)
Perspective  Theme Icon
Materialism vs. Spirituality  Theme Icon
Linear vs. Cyclical Time  Theme Icon
...the foreigner flags down a passing truck and pays the laborers therein to pry the statue from its pedestal and place it in his car; he also pays them to siphon... (full context)