In the short story “Vanka Summary,” written by Anton Chekhov, the reader is introduced to the plight of a young boy named Vanka who dreams of a better life. Set in rural Russia, the story follows Vanka as he pens a letter to his grandfather, expressing his longing for a happier existence away from the harsh reality of his current circumstances. Read More Class 10 English Summaries.
Vanka Summary in English
1. Vanka Zhukov is 9 years old. He is apprenticed to Alyakhin, a shoemaker. Vanka did not go to bed on Christmas Eve. When his master, master’s wife, and the other senior apprentices went to Church, Vanka took a pen and a crumpled sheet of paper. Before starting to write he looked around the room, the door and window as if he was afraid. He looked at the lasts on the shelves and gave a sigh. Then he knelt on the floor and started writing.
2. “Dear Grandad Konstantin Makarich, I am writing a letter to you. I send you Christmas greetings and I hope God will send you his blessings. I have no father and Mummie and you are all I have left.”
Page – 146
3. Vanka saw his grandfather in his mind. His grandfather was a night watchman on the estate of a rich family. He was a small, lean old man about 65. But he was lively and agile. He had a smiling face but his eyes were bleary with drink. During daytime he slept in the dark kitchen or spent time joking with the cook and the kitchen maids. In the night he wore a sheepskin coat and walked around the estate making sounds with his rattle. With him there used to be two dogs. One was old Kashtanka. The other was Eel. Eel had black coat and a long weasel-like body. Eel was respectful and always tried to get people’s affection. He looked at friends and strangers in the same manner. He did not give confidence to anyone. His respectful and obedient nature hid his hatred and vengeance. He could go quietly and bite somebody’s foot, creep into the icehouse and steal a peasant’s chicken. His back legs had been cut many times, twice he had been hung up, and every week he was beaten up very badly. But he survived all.
Page – 147
4. Grandad was perhaps standing at the gate looking at the bright red light coming from the church windows, or chatting with the servants. His rattle would be tied to his belt. He would be laughing and pinching a maid or one of the cooks. He would show his snuff box and ask the women to take a nip. The women would take some snuff and put into their nostrils. They would sneeze. Grandad would be shouting and laughing with joy, saying, “Good for frozen noses.”
5. Even the dogs were given snuff. Kashtanka would sneeze, shake her head and walk away, feeling angry. But Eel very politely would wag his tail. The weather was good. The air was still and fresh. It was a dark night. But the whole village could be seen’ clearly because the houses had white roofs. Smoke rose from the chimneys. Trees were covered with frost. Snow was falling. The sky was filled with twinkling stars. The Milky Way was shining as if polished with snow.
6. Vanka continued with his letter: “Yesterday I got a lot of beating. The master took me by the hair and dragged me into the yard. He beat me badly with the stirrup-strap (the belt used to connect the foot rest of the rider to the saddle). I had gone to sleep while rocking his baby. One day last week, the mistress told me to clean a herring. I began from the tail. She took it and rubbed its head on my face. Other apprentices make fun of me. They send me to buy vodka and make me steal the master’s cucumbers.
I don’t get enough to eat. They give me bread in the morning, gruel for dinner and again bread for supper. I never get tea or cabbage soup. They take it all themselves. They make me sleep in the passage. When their baby cries, I don’t get any sleep at all. I have to rock it. Dear Grandad, for the Lord’s sake, take me away from this place. Take me home to the village. I can’t suffer it any longer. I beg you. I always pray for you. Do take me away or I will die….’’
Page – 148
7. Vanka’s lips trembled. He rubbed his eyes. He sobbed.
Vanka continued: “I will grind your snuff for you. I will pray for you. You can beat me as hard as you like if I do mischief. If you think I have nothing to do, I will clean the boots or go as a shepherd instead of Fedya. I wanted to run away to the village but I have no boots and I was afraid of the frost. When I grow up to be a man I will look after you and I will not let anyone hurt you. When you die, I will pray for your soul like I do for my Mummie.”
8. “Moscow is such a big town. There are many gentlemen’s houses and many horses there. There are no sheep. The dogs there are not at all fierce. The boys go about with a sta,r at Christmas. They don’t let you sing in church. Once I saw them selling fishing hooks of different sizes. I saw one hook that could hold a catfish weighing 30 pounds. I have seen shops selling guns like the one my master has. The guns might cost 100 roubles each. In the butcher’s shop we can buy grouse, woodcock (both mean different kinds of ‘kattukozhi’) and hares. The shopkeepers don’t say how they got them.”
9. “Dear Grandad, when they have a Christmas tree at the big house, take a fine nut for me and put it away in the green chest. Ask Miss Olga Ignatyevna and tell her it is for Vanka.”
10. Vanka sighed. He looked at the window glass. He remembered his grandfather going to get a Christmas tree for his employers. He had taken Vanka with him. How happy Vanka was then! Grandfather would laugh. The frost covered trees would laugh and Vanka also laughed. Before cutting the tree, grandfather would smoke his pipe, take a long pinch of snuff. He would laugh at the shivering Vanka. The young firtrees, covered with frost, stood without moving. They were waiting to see which one would be cut. Suddenly a hare would appear. Grandfather would shout: ‘Stop it, stop it.’
Page – 149
11. Grandfatherwould drag the tree to the big house. They all would decorate it. Miss Olga Ignatyevna, Vanka’s favourite, was the busiest of all. Pelageya was Ninka’s mother. She is dead. When she was working in the big house, Olga Ignatyevna used to give Vanka sweets. As her pastime, she also taught Vanka to read, write and count to a hundred. She even tried to teach him to dance. When his mother died, Vanka was sent to the back kitchen to his grandmother. From there he was sent to Moscow, to Alyakhin.
12. Vanka continued writing. “Come to me dear grandad. Take me from here. Feel pity for me. They always beat me and I am always hungry and miserable. I send my love to Alyona, one eyed-Yegor and the coachman. Don’t give my concertina to anyone. I remain your grandson Ivan Zhukov. DearGrandad do come.”
13. He folded the sheet and put into an envelope. He wrote the address: To Grandfather in the village. After some thought he added: To Konstantin Makarich’.
Page – 150
14. He was happy that nobody saw him writing. He put his cap and ran out into the street. He did not wear his coat. The men at the butcher’s had told him that letters are put into letter-boxes. Then they are sent all over the world in mail coaches with 3 horses and drunken drivers and jingling bells. Vanka dropped his letter in the letter box.
15. An hour later he fell asleep. He dreamed of a stove. His grandfather was sitting on the stove-ledge, with his bare feet dangling. He was reading the letter to the cooks. Eel was walking backwards and forwards, wagging his tail.
The story serves as a powerful commentary on the plight of the underprivileged and their dreams of escape, ultimately evoking empathy and a call for social reform. Vanka Summary pdf writter Chekhov’s storytelling prowess and compassionate portrayal of Vanka make this a timeless piece that resonates with readers, urging them to reflect on societal injustices and the enduring human spirit.
Read More Summaries: