What does Vanka take out of the cupboard?

Vanka takes a bottle of ink and a pen out of his master's cupboard. He has been apprenticed to a shoemaker but is being cruelly mistreated. He writes a letter to his grandfather in which he explains his situation and pleads for help.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The heartbreaking short story "Vanka" by Anton Chekhov tells of a nine-year-old boy who has been apprenticed to a shoemaker. His mother has died, and his grandfather, in a distant village, is the only relative he has left. The shoemaker and his family treat Vanka cruelly, so Vanka...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The heartbreaking short story "Vanka" by Anton Chekhov tells of a nine-year-old boy who has been apprenticed to a shoemaker. His mother has died, and his grandfather, in a distant village, is the only relative he has left. The shoemaker and his family treat Vanka cruelly, so Vanka wants his grandfather to rescue him from the situation.

Vanka decides to write a letter to his grandfather to describe what he is going through and plea for his help. The things that he takes out of the cupboard are "a bottle of ink and a pen with a rusty nib." He uses these items to write his note on a "crumpled sheet of paper." He explains that his life is intolerable. The master beats him, the mistress and workmen make fun of him, he is given very little to eat, and he sleeps in the passage except when the master and mistress force him to stay up and rock their baby. He begs his grandfather to take him "away from here, home to the village." If his grandfather will only do this for him, Vanka promises to serve him faithfully.

The poor mistreated boy at first addresses the envelope with the letter inside only to "grandfather in the village." As an afterthought he adds his grandfather's name, then runs out into the cold to put the envelope into a postbox. Readers can only sympathize with the pitiful Vanka, because, without a proper address, there is very little chance that his heart's cry will ever be delivered to his grandfather.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on