Part 7, Chapter 17 Summary
Financially, Stepan Arkadyevitch is in serious trouble. The money for two-thirds of the forest land he sold is already gone; he has borrowed against the remaining third at ten percent interest, The merchant will not give him any more, as Darya Alexandrovna has asserted herself for the first time, insisting that it is her property and she will not sign the receipt for payment of the remaining third. All of Stepan Arkadyevitch’s salary goes to household expenses and unavoidable small debts which must be paid. There is absolutely no money.
Stepan Arkadyevitch finds this situation awkward and embarrassing, and he believes something must change. The only thing he knows to change is his salary. His position was perfectly acceptable years ago, but it is no longer sufficient to meet his needs. He has been passed over where he is, so he spends the winter searching for a new and more lucrative position. He travels to St. Petersburg to apply for the post of secretary of the committee of the amalgamated agency of the southern railways and of certain banking companies.
This position requires such immense energy and such varied qualifications that it is difficult for any one man to fit all of them. In that case, it is better to fill the position with an honest man rather than a dishonest one. Stepan Arkadyevitch is not only an honest man in the common sense of the word; he is also considered an honest man in the special sense of Moscow society: as in an “honest” politician, an “honest” writer, or an “honest” institution. Honest in this sense means being capable, on occasion, of taking a stand against the authorities.
Stepan Arkadyevitch can fill this position while keeping his government post, and his appointment is in the hands of two ministers, one lady, and two Jews. These are the people he must visit in St. Petersburg. He has promised his sister to talk with Alexey Alexandrovitch while he is there, to get a definite answer for her regarding the divorce. After begging fifty roubles from his wife, Stepan Arkadyevitch is on his way.
In St. Petersburg, Alexey Alexandrovitch is...
(The entire section is 536 words.)