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Zlateh the Goat Lesson Plans

Short story “Zlateh the Goat” by Isaac Bashevis Singer reveals the close, trusting relationship that occurs between humans and animals.

Student Activities for Zlateh the Goat

Essential Questions for "Zlateh the Goat"

  1. How do relationships change during difficult times?
  2. Are animals able to communicate, question things, or draw conclusions? Why or why not?
  3. What role does trust and loyalty play in a friendship?
  4. Can there be a special relationship that occurs between humans and animals? Why or why not?

A Quick Synopsis of "Zlateh the Goat"

Hanukkah is right around the corner and it is unusual that snow hasn’t fallen. Reuven the furrier, a family man who makes fur garments, is not getting enough business and decides to sell Zlateh, the family goat, to the butcher. Aaron is responsible for taking Zlateh to town; his mother wipes her tears and his sisters wail over the loss of their goat. The family says goodbye to the goat and Zlateh licks their hands happily, unaware of what will happen to her.

Aaron and Zlateh walk awhile toward town. Soon, however, the weather begins to change. A large black cloud with a bluish center appears in the east and spreads itself rapidly over the sky. A dense snow begins to fall and a cold wind blows. Aaron no longer knows where he is, and he cannot see through the snow. The snow becomes thicker and thicker, and Zlateh refuses to go any farther. Aaron knows they need to find shelter quickly or they will freeze to death.

Aaron spots a hill in the distance; the hill is a haystack covered in snow. He creates a hole to enter the haystack and crawls in. Aaron and Zlateh are saved; Zlateh eats the hay all around her, and Aaron eats the small snack he brought with him. Aaron is still hungry and drinks milk straight from Zlateh’s udders.

The storm continued for three days. Aaron makes sure to poke a hole through the snow for air, he drinks from Zlateh’s udders when he is hungry, cuddles with her to keep warm, and tells her stories to pass the time. Aaron loves Zlateh like a sister.

On the fourth day, Aaron hears sleigh bells coming from the road. The peasant driving the sleigh points Aaron to the direction of his town. Aaron’s family and neighbors had been out searching for him and Zlateh, but had decided that they were lost, and were very upset. One of the neighbors rushes in to tell them Aaron is on his way home. Everyone is elated! The family never considers selling Zlateh again, and with all the snow, Reuven the furrier receives more business, allowing for delicious pancakes to be served and Hanukkah to be celebrated. Occasionally Aaron asks Zlateh if she remembers those three days together, and Zlateh responds in her usual loving way.

Image Attributions
  • Hay Bale • Mary Trebilco • License Attribution (
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