Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary
Stepan Arkadyevitch dresses himself meticulously, feeling good about his physical condition even though he is unhappy on the inside. He reads some business letters while he drinks his coffee, and then he reads the paper. It is a liberal newspaper that reflects the views of the majority, which is always the view he takes. If the views of the majority change, his views change as well because he did not choose them to begin with. He has no interest in science, art, or politics; however, he believes whatever the majority believes about each of them. In his social circles, it is important to have views on such things. Though he could have chosen either liberal or conservative views and still been accepted in those social circles, he chose liberal because it best suits his lifestyle.
The liberal party believes everything in Russia is wrong. The liberal party believes marriage is an outdated institution that needs to be changed, and certainly his own marriage makes him unhappy and has forced him into something he detests—lying. The liberal party also believes that the church exists only to “keep in check” the lower classes. Stepan Arkadyevitch has always found church to be nothing but painful and meaningless. In short, liberalism has become a habit for him, and he likes reading to paper to affirm his beliefs.
Today’s lead article suggests that revolutionary thinking is threatening to take over the country but that it is necessary because the true enemy of the people and of progress is traditionalism. Although Stepan Arkadyevitch enjoys feeling as if he is among the superior thinkers in a country full of unrest, today his self-satisfaction is tempered by the unrest in his own home. After eating his breakfast, he puts on a “joyous smile” because he is satisfied with his digestion, though nothing else in his life is particularly joyful at this moment.
Outside the dining room, he hears Grisha (his youngest boy) and Tanya (his oldest girl) carrying something and then dropping it. He calls them into the room and both children come immediately....
(The entire section is 542 words.)