Zlateh the Goat

Zlateh the Goat Literary Elements


Short story

Setting and Context

An unnamed Jewish village in rural Eastern Europe, likely Poland, set during the winter months

Narrator and Point of View

Third-person narrative

Tone and Mood

From the beginning, the tone and mood are grim, as the family has no money for Hanukkah and therefore decided to sell their goat. The mood shifts and becomes dramatic and grave as the storm threatens Aaron and Zlateh. But as soon as Aaron discovers shelter in the haystack, a sense of hope imbues the story with a good-natured mood and a reflective, wise tone.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonists: Aaron and Zlateh. Antagonist: the blizzard.

Major Conflict

The conflict exists in the struggle between Aaron and Zlateh against the fierce blizzard.


The story comes to a climax when the storm threatens Aaron and Zlateh, and they face the prospect of freezing to death. Just at that moment, they find a haystack for crucial shelter.


The coziness inside the haystack foreshadows the comfort of life back at home in the village, suggesting that Aaron and Zlateh will find their way home together in the end.




The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is alluded to as the context for the story.


Throughout the story, the natural world is described with vivid imagery. The narrator paints a picture of the dark and threatening storm, as well as the beauty and calm of the world after the storm.


The very storm that threatens Aaron and Zlateh is also the impetus for Zlateh's salvation from the butcher.


The cozy atmosphere inside the haystack parallels the warmth of the family home back in the village.

Metonymy and Synecdoche



Several aspects of the natural world come to life through personification, especially the elements of the storm and the calm skies after the storm. For example, during the storm, the narrator describes the wind wailing "with one voice and then with many... [with] the sound of devilish laughter." Similarly, after the storm, the narrator notes how the "moon swam in the sky as in a sea.”