Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
In “Viy,” a description of student life in the seminary of the Bratsk Monastery in Kiev is followed by an introduction to three students who are hiking home for the summer. They are the philosopher, Khoma Brut, the theologian, Khaliava, and the rhetorician, Tiberiy Gorobets. The three students lose their way in the dark and are unable to find the road. Being hungry and afraid of wolves, they ask for lodging at the first farmyard they come on. An old woman at first refuses to take them in, saying that she fears “such great hulking fellows.” The three students swear that they will behave themselves, however, and Khoma falsely promises to pay her “the devil’s bit” in the morning. The old woman invites them in, saying “What fine young gentlemen the devil has brought us!” She gives them all separate places to sleep. Khoma is given a place in the sheep pen.
In the middle of the night, Khoma is awakened by the entry into the sheep pen of the old woman. She reaches out her arms toward him. Khoma tries to reject her advances, saying that she is too old for him and that it is a time of fasting. However, he finds himself strangely powerless to move away from her. She leaps onto his back with the swiftness of a cat and begins to ride him, beating him on his side with a broom.
To his amazement and horror, Khoma carries the old woman out into the wide plain, which seems to him to be at the bottom of a clear sea. The sun replaces the moon,...
(The entire section is 1424 words.)
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