Part 8, Chapter 3 Summary
Sergey Ivanovitch and Katavasov enter their compartment. At the next station, the soldiers are again hailed by the locals; they stick their heads out of the windows in greeting. Sergey Ivanovitch is not at all interested in anything to do with the volunteers. He has spent enough time with them that they no longer interest him; however, Katavasov has been occupied with his scientific work and has not had the opportunity to observe them and is interested in doing so now. Sergey Ivanovitch suggests he go to the second-class cabins and talk with them directly, and that is what Katavasov does.
At the first train stop, Katavasov visits the volunteers; the men are obviously aware that all the attention outside the train is concentrated on them. They are a loud and boisterous group, and the loudest among them is a tall, hollow-chested young man whom Katavasov had noticed at the station in Moscow. He is “unmistakably tipsy” and is telling some story about his school days. Sitting across from the loquacious young man is a middle-aged officer wearing a jacket from the Austrian military Guards; he listens to the story and smiles. The third man wears an artillery uniform and sits on a box beside the other two men. A fourth volunteer is asleep.
Katavasov learns that the drunken man is a wealthy merchant in Moscow who had wasted a large fortune by the time he was twenty-two. He is effeminate and sickly; however, especially in his state of inebriation, he is convinced that he is performing a heroic deed and brags about it. Katavasov finds him to be an unpleasant fellow.
The officer makes an equally unpleasant impression on Katavasov. He has done many things in his life and talks quite unnecessarily about all of his accomplishments; he also uses “learned expressions quite inappropriately.” The man in the artillery uniform makes a good first impression on Katavasov, for he is modest and obviously naively impressed with his fellow volunteers’ exploits and sacrifices. He does not speak about himself until Katavasov asks. What he discovers is that the artillery man had only been recently promoted to that position. He is just a retired cadet who had...
(The entire section is 548 words.)