Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Ignat begins as a water pumper, but, by the time he is forty years old, he is a rich owner of barges and tugs and a determined and a ruthless trader. At times, however, he is subject to fits of depression, and he carouses with the dregs of the city; sometimes, he exults fiercely when one of his barges burns. He is a huge man with boundless energy. His greatest disappointment is that he has no son; his wife bears only daughters who die in infancy. When he is forty-three years old, his wife suddenly dies, and, within six months, he finds a young bride. Natalya is tall and handsome, dutiful but mysterious. Although ordinarily submissive, she has strength of character that makes boisterous Ignat afraid to beat her. She dies after the birth of Foma, Ignat’s long-desired son.
Until he is six years old, Foma is reared in his godfather Mayakin’s house. Under the watchful, stupid eye of a female relative, he plays unimaginatively with Liuboff, Mayakin’s daughter. Ignat then takes back his son, and Foma’s Aunt Anfisa looks after him. Anfisa tells him many fanciful tales that whet the young boy’s imagination.
At the age of eight, Foma discusses the family business with Ignat and is disappointed that his father is only a river merchant instead of a pirate. To clear up his misapprehensions, Ignat takes the boy on a business trip down the river. Foma gets along well with the peasants until he tells his father how one worker was uncomplimentary to...
(The entire section is 1112 words.)
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