We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
GO TO SAT PREP GO TO ACT PREP
Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels

  

by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels Part 4, Chapter 8 Summary

READ THE BOOK: Part 4, Chapter 8

"The author relates several particulars of the Yahoos. The great virtues of the Houyhnhnms. The education and exercise of their youth. Their general assembly."

  • Gulliver asks the Master Horse for permission to observe the Yahoos, which the Master Horse gives as long as Gulliver is always accompanied by a Houyhnhnm guard – the sorrel nag.
  • Yahoo children are agile, and they also smell bad.
  • Yahoos are strong but cowardly, stubborn, lying, and deceitful.
  • The Yahoos also swim well, which leads Gulliver to an adventure.
  • One day, the weather is so hot that he wants to go for a swim, so he asks the sorrel nag if he may go for a dip in the river.
  • The sorrel nag agrees.
  • A young female Yahoo finds Gulliver so hot that she goes running into the river to try and seduce him on the spot.
  • Gulliver freaks out and yells.
  • At the sight of his Houyhnhnm guard, she runs away.
  • Gulliver is truly embarrassed, because this is the final proof he needs that he is, in fact, a Yahoo.
  • Gulliver has spent three years in Houyhnhnm Land and is ready to tell the reader a bit more about the Houyhnhnms.
  • The Houyhnhnms do not understand the word "opinion" truly, because they are totally devoted to reason, and you can only have an opinion about something you do not know absolutely.
  • It doesn't make sense to argue over something you can't know; the Houyhnhnms believe that you should respect other people's ideas without trying to dominate with your own.
  • The Houyhnhnms are equally good to their neighbors and strangers; they value friendship above all else.
  • When a female Houyhnhnm has had a foal of each gender, a couple will stop producing children. This is to keep Houyhnhnm Land from becoming overpopulated.
  • The rule is slightly relaxed for servant-class Houyhnhnms , who can have up to three kids of each gender.
  • The Houyhnhnms do not believe in mixing races, so a Houyhnhnm will only marry another Houyhnhnm of the same color. (For a discussion of race in Gulliver's Travels, check out our "Character Analyses" of the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos.)
  • The Houyhnhnms apply their rules of reason even to marriage, which is always arranged for a couple by their parents. Houyhnhnm couples are always faithful.
  • The Houyhnhnms believe in equality of education for the sexes, since it's not rational to leave half the species knowing nothing except how to bear children.
  • Children are strictly disciplined, with a restricted grass diet and lots and lots of exercise.
  • The Houyhnhnms have assemblies representing the whole nation every four years, where they check in to make sure everyone has all the supplies they need.
  • If one Houyhnhnm couple has two sons and another has two daughters, they'll trade one to make sure that they have the set quantity of one boy and one girl.
  • If one family has lost one or both children, another Houyhnhnm couple has to have a child to supply their loss.
READ THE BOOK: Part 4, Chapter 8

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement