The chalk circle was a test devised by Judge Azdak to determine Michael’s true mother. Natella, the wife to the slain governor, wanted her son back so she could access the husband’s estate. This was because the wealth was only accessible through the heir. On the other hand, Grusha wanted to keep the boy because she had saved him after his birth mother, Natella, left him behind and raised him as her own.
The chalk circle was similar to the Biblical test devised by King Solomon to determine who between the two women was the mother to the child. A circle was drawn on the ground by the Judge and Michael placed in the middle. The Judge stated that the true mother would pull the child from the center. However it was obvious that if they both pulled they would hurt the boy. At this request, Natella pulled the child but Grusha refused and this according to the Judge confirmed Grusha as Michael’s true mother.