Gulliver's Travels Part 4, Chapter 8 Summary
"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.