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Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 4 Chapter 2

Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 4 Chapter 2

The narrator is conducted by a Houyhnhnm to his house. The house is described. The narrator’s reception and the food of the Houyhnhnms is described. The narrator is in distress for the want of meat. He is, at last, relieved. His manner of feeding in this country is recounted here.

Gulliver and the grey horse walked about three miles, to a long, low building. He took out gifts, expecting to meet people. Instead, he found that there were more horses in the house, both settled and engaged in various activities. He thought that the house belonged to a person of great importance and he wondered why they should have horses for servants. For the first time, Gulliver suspected that he may be losing his mind. So civilized were the Houyhnhnms that they disturbed Gulliver’s notions of the characteristics applied solely to humans. When he saw that the Houyhnhnms even had servants (sorrel nags), he concluded that they ‘who could so far civilise brute animals, must need excel in wisdom all the nations of the world.’

Gulliver was led out to a building far from the main house, which had three of those gross, hairy animals Gulliver had seen chained to the wall. They were eating roots and meat from animals that had died by accident—donkeys, dogs, and cows. The horse leader ordered ‘the sorrel nag’ to unchain one of the beasts and bring him to Gulliver. When Gulliver saw this beast close up, he realised that the creature did look quite human. Their hands had uncut nails, and they were a bit hairier and their skin was rougher and more toughened than Gulliver, but still, they were unmistakably human beings.

What was clearly confusing the horses was that Gulliver had the head of a Yahoo, but his body was pretty different: they didn’t understand that his clothes were not part of his skin. The horses also saw that Gulliver truly loathed the Yahoos, and that he also couldn’t eat the raw meat they ate. The horses tested Gulliver by offering him various foods: hay, which he refused, and flesh, which he found repulsive but which the Yahoo devoured. Gulliver saw a cow passing and indicated that he would milk her. The horses understood that he liked milk and gave him large amounts of it to drink.

Around noon, an elderly horse appeared in a carriage drawn by four Yahoos and the horses took great pleasure in teaching Gulliver to pronounce words in their language. Later, Gulliver learnt that his diet will consist of oats that could be roasted, ground into flour, and mixed with milk to produce a kind of paste that he could eat. The horses all appeared extremely well-mannered, modest, and decent. After lunch, the grey horse (whom Gulliver had started calling his Master) indicated that he was worried that Gulliver had eaten so little. They could not determine what he might like to eat until Gulliver suggested that he could make bread from their oats. The grey horse also provided Gulliver with some temporary living quarters in a building near the stable.