Last Updated on March 5, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 340
The titular bishop is the protagonist of the story. Now, he is called Bishop Pyotr, but he was called Pavlusha as a child in his small hometown. He has noticed that people tend to treat him quite formally as a result of his status within the church, and he longs for the old times when he could be more familiar and even affectionate with people. He doesn't feel truly known by the people around him. He recalls going out of town some while back and, while he was visiting another bishop, "everyone was timid in his presence" and they all "'flopped'" at his feet. Now, his mother reacts the same way to him and it truly pains him. His misses the comparative ease of childhood.
The bishop's mother, Marya Timofyevna, has come to visit him after not seeing him for nine years. Bishop Pyotr feels that she acts in a "constrained" way with him, and she feels more like "a deacon's widow than his mother" because she seems to treat him more with veneration for his clerical position than with affection as her son.
The bishop's niece, Katya, whom he has never met, comes to visit him with his mother. She is described as having a "turned-up nose and sly eyes." She breaks several things during her visit. She is the only person who treats the bishop like a person rather than a higher-up in the church.
Father Sisoy is a man of seventy who lives in another monastery about twelve miles away. He used to be the housekeeper of the diocesan bishop, and he never stays in one place for very long. He has come for a visit, but the bishop has kept him in order to discuss "matters of business, about the arrangements here . . . . " It sounds as though Bishop Pyotr might want to have Sisoy play a role in the monastery after Pyotr's death. Sisoy, however, is always irritated and discontented, and he cannot even remember why he became a monk in the first place.