The House of the Dead

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 2: Chapter 6 Summary

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Aleksandr describes the animals of the prison and their relationship with the humans. During his imprisonment, the prison’s draft horse, whose task is to bring in water, dies. Such an animal needs a replacement for practical reasons, and the convicts are given the task of buying a new one. Most expert of all, the mountain tribesmen have opinions about horses that are particularly valued. They inspect several options, decide on the right one, and then negotiate for its price, which the major approves. In the process, two men have a verbal duel. The fighters are Kulikov, formerly the veterinarian of the prison area, and Yolkin, a new veterinarian who actually knows what he is doing. But the fight resolves without actual violence, and the men happily purchase the horse. Roman, the water carrier, approves of their choice. Gnedko (the new horse, named after the old horse) quickly becomes adored by the convicts.

In addition to Sharik, the prison dog whom only Aleksandr pets, there are several other dogs who pass through the prison. Most of them do not survive long, as their fur is used to make coats. The prison goat, Vaska, survives for longer, but the Major ultimately orders that he be killed and eaten.

In addition to these animals, the men care for a wounded eagle, which is skittish and prideful. It eats the food they leave when no one is looking, but it will not become comfortable with them. In the end, they decide to release it from the prison. As it flies away, they all feel jealous of its freedom.

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Part 2: Chapter 5 Summary


Part 2: Chapter 7 Summary