Chapters 11-15 Summary and Analysis

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Chapter 11

Loris-Melikov, Prince Vorontsov’s aide-de-camp, asks Hadji Murad to tell him the story of his life so that he can write it down in Russian and send it to the Tsar. Hadji Murad tells his story, beginning with his birth in the small village of Tselmess and his carefree youth. He was a favorite of the local ruler, the Khansha, and grew up in the palace, treated as a brother by the Khans.

The Khansha and her sons became embroiled in the conflict between the Russians and the Chechen Muslims, who were engaged in what they regarded as a holy war against them. Initially, the Khansha sought help from the Russians, but then she agreed to send her sons to stay with the Chechen leader, Hamzad. Hamzad treacherously attempted to kill the Khans, and Hadji Murad, who went with them, fled in fear. This was the only time in his life that he was afraid, and ever since then, remembering the shame of his flight, he has feared nothing.

Chapter 12

Hadji Murad stops telling his story in order to pray. After he has left, Loris-Melikov hears a dispute between the Chechens, caused by Gamzalo, who has been praising Imam Shamil, despite having left Shamil’s service and joined Hadji Murad. Gamzalo says that Shamil must be a saint, or his followers would not obey him as they do.

Loris-Melikov notes that the other Chechens, including Hadji Murad, know how to hide their real feelings, but Gamzalo loves Imam Shamil and hates the Russians, and is unable to hide either fact. He wonders whether any of the Chechens are sincere in their surrender or whether they have really come to spy on the Russians on behalf of Imam Shamil.

Chapter 13

Hadji Murad resumes his story, saying that having killed the young Khans, Hamzad went on to murder their mother, the Khansha. The whole of Avaria surrendered to Hamzad, but Hadji Murad continued to hold out against him. He and his brother, Osman, attacked Hamzad in a mosque and killed him, though Osman was also killed in the process.

The Russians gave Murad an officer’s commission and appointed him to govern Avaria, but they also appointed his bitter enemy, Akhmet Khan, as Khan of Kazi-Kumukh. Akhmet Khan captured and imprisoned Murad, but Murad managed to escape. He sustained severe wounds, including a permanent limp. Distrusting the Russians, he returned to fight for Imam Shamil, Hamzad’s successor, though he hated Shamil. Shamil eventually realized this and attacked Murad, capturing his family.

Murad shows Loris-Melikov two letters from a former Russian Commander, General Klugenau, in which the general attempted to persuade him to join the Russian side. This, he reiterates, he now wishes to do, but he can accomplish nothing against Imam Shamil as long as his family is in Shamil’s power. He asks Loris-Melikov to intercede with Prince Vorontsov to persuade the Russian Commander-in-Chief to secure his family’s freedom.

Chapter 14

Prince Vorontsov writes a letter to Prince Chernyshov, the Minister of War. In it, he gives an account of Hadji Murad’s conduct since his surrender, and particularly of his concern for his family, held hostage by Imam Shamil. Vorontsov is not inclined to trust Hadji Murad but says that if the Russians treat him as a prisoner, all the good effects of his surrender will be lost.

Vorontsov therefore proposes to grant a request made by Murad, that he should be allowed to go to Grozny, close to Imam Shamil’s headquarters, with Loris-Melikov and a small band of Cossacks, to gather news of his family and perhaps find some way...

(This entire section contains 1073 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

of liberating them. Vorontsov asks Chernyshov to place this proposal before the Tsar and see whether it meets with his approval.

Chapter 15

Prince Chernyshov goes to the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg to report to the Tsar. Tsar Nicholas is in a particularly bad mood that day and receives Chernyshov coldly. Chernyshov presents the matter of Hadji Murad to the Tsar along with several others, flattering him and trying to persuade him to dismiss Prince Vorontsov’s plan as too dangerous, since he dislikes and resents Vorontsov. The Tsar, however, discerns Chernyshov’s intention and sides with Vorontsov in order to thwart him.

After meeting his ministers, the Tsar goes out into a reception hall, where he receives the homage of more than a hundred members of Saint Petersburg high society. He receives their compliments listlessly and goes to church, where he finds the obsequious clerics just the same as his worldly courtiers and ministers. At dinner that night, the Tsar speaks confidently of his masterful strategy for carrying on the war in the Caucasus and taking advantage of the surrender of Hadji Murad. Everyone agrees with the Tsar, and he continues with his unsatisfying round of pomp and pleasure.


This section concludes with an unusually long chapter describing the life of the Tsar in Saint Petersburg. None of this description is strictly necessary to tell the story of Hadji Murad, and Tolstoy goes so far as to emphasize this through his narrative technique. At the beginning of chapter 15, he briefly recounts the Tsar’s decision to follow Vorontsov’s advice in a summary that occupies a couple of pages. He then presents the Tsar’s meeting with Chernyshov, together with his other movements that day, in an elaborate account about ten times as long as his initial summary of the same events. The outcome is the same, but the presentation of Nicholas reinforces the themes of the story.

The Tsar is depicted as an empty shell. He is surrounded by men who flatter him and grovel before him, and by beautiful women eager to make love to him. His position appears an enviable one, even to himself, and he is supremely confident of his brilliant abilities, on which the fate of Russia and indeed, all of Europe, depend. He enjoys his continual love affairs and the adulation of his courtiers, but with the heavy, petulant enjoyment of a spoiled child, continually demanding novelty. Nicholas has been flattered and pampered for so long that he no longer knows who he is and accepts without question that he is the image of divine perfection. The problem with this is that he cannot aspire to or imagine any being better than himself, and he is dimly, querulously aware that, if he is the pinnacle of creation, then creation is disappointing.


Chapters 6-10 Summary and Analysis


Chapters 16-20 Summary and Analysis