What is a summary of "Autumn in the Oak Woods"?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The story of "Autumn in the Oak Woods," set in Russia and written by Yuri Pavlovich Kazakov, follows a step-by-step progress from the narrator's anticipated arrival by the "night boat" of his girlfriend to her decision as to whether to stay or return to the city. Neither are named and therefore stand as symbols of Russian men and women and of what is referred to as the Russian soul (psychological, philosophical, and moral quality).

The story opens with the narrator drawing water from a spring and musing about his happiness at the expected arrival of his girlfriend from the city on the night boat. He then meets the boat and she in fact disembarks. she did come; he was anxious that she might not.

He refrains from kissing her in the light of the night boat's beam. They shyly reacquaint themselves with each other then move away from the water's edge as he leads her into the oak woods to the hut he lives in. He points out things about his life in the woods as they pass them, like the feathers of a chicken stolen by a fox and the berries from which he makes vodka.

They stay the night in the hut and awake to see that the first autumn snow fell overnight. Treading through the fresh snow, they explore the beauties of the woods. He is anxious lest she decide that such a secluded uneventful life hold no interest for her, but she calms his anxiety by saying that she finds it good as well. That night, they stand overlooking the pier where the night boat moors. Together they watch the boat come in and dock, wait, and then depart again. They are together, as though in a "white dream," in the natural beauty that reflects their happiness.

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