By Anton Chekhov
· The story ‘The Beggar’ written by Anton Chekhov is a story of a beggar, Lushkoff who was a drunkard and due to his drunkenness he lost his work and had to beg.
· Anton Chekhov, a Russian playwright and short story writer, is regarded to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history.
· ‘The Beggar’ is a tale of the transformation in the life of a beggar who was brought onto right path and changed into a good person. The behaviour of Olga, the cook made him leave his drinking habit, work and lead a good life.
· The story highlights that all the pains and efforts of a person are worth, if a spoilt drunkard is put on the right path.
· Lushkoff, the beggar stopped Sergei, a lawyer and begged to give him some money. Sergei asked the beggar to chop wood for him and asked him to work instead of begging. There, Olga, Sergei’s cook rebuked him, abused him, but used to weep for him and also chop wood for him and he used to get money for work he never did. Her sensitivity, concern and tears and selfless work brought a change in his heart.
Summary / Synopsis
Lushkoff, the beggar stopped Sergei, a lawyer and cried to have pity on him and give him some money as he had nothing to eat. He had been a school teacher for eight years but he had lost his place due to treachery on the part of his colleagues.
The beggar was wearing old and ragged clothes. He had dull and drunken eyes and red spot on his cheeks. Sergei recognised the beggar who was wearing overshoes of different sizes. He felt that he had met him in Sadovya street day before yesterday, and at that time he had called himself a student who had been expelled from his college. Sergei warned him that he would call the police.
The beggar admitted his mistake and told the truth that he was a drunkard. He also told that he was working in a Russian choir but he was removed from work due to his drunkenness. He had to tell lies and beg for his life’s sake as nobody gave him work.
Sergei gave him the work of chopping wood if he is ready. The beggar agreed, but unwillingly as he was trapped in his own words. He was taken by Sergei’s cook, Olga to the shed to chop woods there. Olga gave the beggar an axe. He beggar put a billet of wood between his feet and struck it feebly with his axe. The billet fell down. The beggar had become weak due to his drunkenness. He could barely stand on his feet. Sergei was looking at him from the window of his room and felt bad as he had set a drunken and spoiled man at work in the cold. After an hour Olga reported that the wood had been chopped and the beggar was given half a rouble.
Sergei asked him to come on first day of every month and every time found work for him. Sometime, he would shovel snow, beat dust out of rugs and mattresses and sometime put the wood shed in order. When, Sergei moved into another house. The beggar was called to help in moving the furniture but he didn’t touch a single item.
Lushkoff, the beggar, was now offered a cleaner employment of copying. Sergei asked him to go to his friend with a letter. Sergei was happy as he had put a beggar on the right path.
After two years when Sergei was standing at a ticket window of a theatre, there, he saw Lushkoff who had become a notary by then. He was paod thirty five roubles a month. Sergei was very happy for him. Lushkoff thanked Sergei for all his help and for bringing him out of scrap. He also told that if Sergei had not helped him, he would have still been telling lies and wasting his life.
He told him that it was Olga who had actually saved him. Olga scolded him, abused him, but she would also sit opposite to him and weep for him. Then, she would also chop wood for him and he hadn’t chopped a single stick of wood. Olga's sensitivity, concern and tears and selfless work brought a change in his heart. He got reformed due to Olga's selfless help and concern and said that he would never forget her. Then it was time for the show and they departed towards the gallery.
The story highlights an important message that all the pains and efforts of a person are worth, if a spoilt drunkard is put on the right path. The life of a beggar became a tale of the transformation as he was brought onto right path and changed into a good person due to Olga’s sensitivity, concern, pure tears and selfless work. A pure and sublime heart can change any beast into a noble character.