What was the plot of Leo Tolstoy's "The Penitent Sinner"?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Leo Tolstoy's story "The Penitent Sinner" begins with a man who has died and is trying to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

The rising action begins when the man, a penitent sinner, knocks on the doors of heaven and is seen by Peter the Apostle, who asks who he is and what he wants. As the sinner asks for pity to be allowed into Heaven, St. Peter tells him that he cannot go in because he is a sinner and the people in heaven are too good for him to get in.

Therefore, the penitent sinner explains to Peter all the sins that he, Peter, had committed prior to be deemed as the Father of the faith.

After a similar encounter with King David, who would not allow him to come in, and the sinner would remind them how they, also, once were penitent sinners.

The climax should be when he encounters the last of the great men in heaven, John the Divine- whom Jesus loved the most. After John denies him entry the sinner reminds him how, because he was the one Jesus loved the most, it is he, John, who should let the sinner in- as he has experienced first hand a huge blessing.

The declining action would be the speech that the sinner makes to John the Divine regarding Jesus loving him, and how he should show the same love for another sinner.

The conclusion is that the gates of Heaven are lifted and the sinner is admitted in.