Showing 241 - 250 of 457 annotations in the genre "Short Story"
The story is set in a ship's infirmary where five soldiers and sailors are returning to Russia after serving in the Far East. One of them, Gusev, served as an orderly. He is content to do his duty and get by. His delirious dreams are filled with images of his family's farm. He is concerned that if he does not make it home, the farm will fail and his parents will be thrown into the streets.
He makes kind overtures to another patient, Pavel Ivanych, who responds angrily. Pavel Ivanych considers himself a realist, a truth-teller, and a member of the revolutionary intelligentsia. He ridicules Gusev's optimistic good nature. Where Gusev is blind to the oppression he has suffered, Pavel Ivanych denounces injustice wherever he sees it and has a reputation for being a troublemaker. Even as his illness advances, Pavel Ivanych protests. He refuses to believe that he can die like the others; indeed, he insists that he is improving. Nonetheless, he dies.
Gusev grows worse, too. He feels an insatiable yearning for something that he cannot define. Shortly afterward, he, too, dies and is buried at sea. The story closes with a description of his body descending through a school of fish while a brilliant sunset shines above.
Fydor Lukitch Sysoev is dressing for his fourteenth annual dinner held in honor of the school teachers. Sysoev has long been considered the best teacher of all and is eager to grasp glory once again, though he thinks the examining inspector tried to sabotage him by asking his students unnecessarily difficult questions. He is very old and has to lie down before he can pull on his boots. He is applauded at the banquet, but is cantankerous to everyone.
In a toast to Sysoev's greatness, the host mentions that the managers have placed a sum of money in the bank for Sysoev's family after his death. Seeing that the faces around him show neither pity, nor respect, but a terrible truth, he leaps up, then bursts into tears. He is taken home where he tells himself that nothing is wrong with him, even as the doctor in the next room says he has less than a week to live.
Dmitry Ionych Startsev is a physician in a provincial town. He is frequently entertained by the Turkins, the town's most cultivated residents. He falls in love with their daughter, Yekaterina, who teases the doctor by asking him to meet her in the cemetery at 11 PM and then not showing up. Finally, she rejects his suit coldly, saying that she must go to Moscow and study at the conservatory.
Four years later, Startsev has gotten corpulent, built a big practice, become affluent, and lost all interest in romance. Yekaterina returns and tries to rekindle their affair, but Startsev becomes irritated and says to himself, "What a jolly good thing I didn't marry her!" In the end, he just becomes fatter and more irritable, and he shouts at his patients.
Sofya Lyovna is somewhat intoxicated as she drives home through the night with her husband of three months, Vladimir Nikititch (Big Volodya), and her old friend, Vladimir Mihalovitch (Little Volodya). Her husband is 53 years old to her 23; the marriage was a marriage of convenience. In truth, she has always loved Little Volodya, who plays around continuously with married women, but has never shown any romantic interest in Sofya.
As they drive near the nunnery that Sofya's friend Olga has recently joined, Sofya stops to visit her and invites Olga for a ride in the carriage. Olga appears cool and contented with her religious life, while Sofya feels that her own life is a mess. A day or so later, Sofya becomes Little Volodya's lover, but he soon drops her; Sofya then finds that she has nothing to do in her boring and loveless life, but to visit the nunnery and pester Olga again and again with her confessions.
Pyotor Mihailitch Ivashin and his mother are plunged into despair; Ivashin's young sister Zina has just left home to live with Vlassitch, an unhappy man who is separated from his wife. Pyotor doesn't know why he feels so outraged at this development; after all, he is a progressive and free thinking person, and Vlassitch is a neighbor. Yet, Pyotor worries that people will think he should do something about his sister's scandalous behavior.
Finally, he resolves to ride over to Vlasslitch's estate and express his anger. However, when he arrives, he is charmed by Vlassitch's gentleness and saddened by his sister's apparent unhappiness, despite her determination to carry through with her chosen path. As he leaves them, it seems that all three are unhappy: "And so the whole of life seemed to him as dark as this water in which the night sky was reflected . . . And it seemed to him that nothing could ever set it right."
In the cathedral a distinguished bishop (Pyotr) is conducting the liturgy on the Eve of Palm Sunday. Among the hordes of people who come to the altar to receive palm branches, the bishop sees an elderly peasant woman who resembles his own mother. He drives home to the monastery feeling extremely fatigued (he has been ill for three days) and learns that, indeed, the peasant woman was his mother, who had unexpectedly made the long journey from her village to see her famous son.
The next day the bishop dines with his mother and his naughty niece (Katya). Suddenly, after the meal, the bishop becomes gravely ill with typhoid. Yet over the next few days he travels around conducting Holy Week Services. Toward the end of the week, he begins to hemorrhage. He reviews the events of his life as his mother sits by his bed. Just before Easter arrives, he dies. As time goes on, the bishop is forgotten, except by his mother.
The story is told of Byelikov, "the man in a case." Byelikov, the Greek teacher at a provincial school, was extraordinarily orderly both in his personal and professional lives. A strict disciplinarian, he never made exceptions to the rules. He always did things the proper way, determined to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
Although he and his colleagues had nothing to speak about, he would regularly visit each one of them because it was the accepted thing to do. Every time something slightly irregular came up, Byelikov would cry, "Oh, how I hope it doesn't reach the ears of the authorities!" Naturally, the other teachers hated him.
At one point, Byelikov became enamored of Varinka, the sister of Kovalenko, a new teacher at the school. Everyone encouraged this relationship, hoping that marriage would moderate Byelikov. However, someone drew a humorous caricature of Byelikov and Varinka.
Then, Byelikov saw Varinka and her brother bicycling in the park. Outraged, Byelikov went to the brother to complain about this scandalous behavior, but Kovalenko pushed him down the steps. Byelikov than became depressed, took to his bed, and died, thereby truly becoming a man in a box (i.e. a coffin).
Burkin and Ivan Ivanovich seek shelter from the rain in Alehin's country home. As they sit having their tea, Ivan Ivanovich tells the story of his brother, Nikolay, who worked as a government functionary and always dreamed of saving enough money to buy his own country home with a garden and gooseberries. He skimped and saved and finally, after his wife's death, bought an estate.
When Ivan Ivanovich visited him many years later, Nikolay was no longer the self-doubting clerk he once was, but had become a confident (and corpulent) landowner, who was obviously happy with his life and with the delicious gooseberries from the bushes he had planted. Ivan Ivanovich realized then that he, too, was a happy man, despite all the pain and evil in the world.
Seventeen year old Volodya and his mother visit the home of their wealthy acquaintances, the Shumihins. Everyone teases the awkward and shy young man. Volodya is infatuated with Nyuta, the Shumihins' cousin, a married woman of 30 "with rosy cheeks, plump shoulders, a plump round chin, and a continual smile on her thin lips." Volodya encounters her as she returns through the garden from bathing. She teases him to speak. Finally, he blurts out, "I love you" and grasps her around the waist. She laughs and frees herself.
Later, Volodya hears Nyuta and his mother laughing about the incident. He remains at the house overnight and has another encounter with Nyuta, this time in her room. When Volodya and his mother return home, he goes to his room, puts the muzzle of a revolver in his mouth, and kills himself.
Nadya Shumin is engaged to be married to Andrey Andreitch, the son of a local priest. Nadya lives on her grandmother's estate with her mother, "a fair-haired woman tightly laced in, with a pince-nez, and diamonds on every finger." While Nadya is a woman with a great desire for education and independence, Andrey is a friendly but rather vacuous and totally unmotivated man.
Sasha, an ill and impoverished young man who is spending the summer on the estate has long been considered part of the family. Sasha implores Nadya to follow her heart--to go to Petersburg and attend the University. She resolves to do so and secretly accompanies Sasha when he returns to Moscow. She then goes on to begin her own life in Petersburg.
After the school term, Nadya returns for the summer, but she is aware that things will never be the same. The family receives word that Sasha has died of tuberculosis. At the end of the story, Nadya is packing to leave the estate "as she supposed forever."