“On the Golden Porch” is told in the first person by an unnamed young woman who is attempting to recall her childhood experiences in a small Russian town near Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). The story opens with a detailed description of an enchanted garden, in and around which most of the action takes place. In this garden, several girls experience for the first time some of the secrets of life, including accidentally seeing a naked man. The two main characters, Veronika Vikentievna and her husband, Pasha, become the focus of the reminiscences. Veronika, a strong woman who bragged of killing a calf and possesses “a luxurious, golden, applelike” beauty, is a domineering wife and rules over her husband as well as over the stock and barrel of the household. Even when she does something good, such as selling an egg from her prized hen to the narrator’s mother, she does it under the condition that it be eaten right away and not be used surreptitiously for breeding a superior chicken. When she discovers that the narrator’s mother has given the egg to someone else, Veronika can never forgive her. For all these reasons, the narrator calls her Tsaritsa.
Veronika’s husband, Pasha, whom the children call “Uncle Pasha,” is exactly the opposite of his wife. Even though he obeys duly and meekly, he leads a rich life of his own, almost slyly. He walks for hours to and from his job without complaint, and he does his work well. Most important, he plays piano skillfully and sensitively;...
(The entire section is 614 words.)