Summary and Analysis: Chapter 1

New Characters
Ivan: A poet writing under the pseudonym “Homeless.”

Berlioz: The chairman of the Massolit literary association and the editor of a literary journal.

Professor (also known as “Consultant,” and “Woland”): A foreigner recently arrived in Moscow later to be revealed as the devil.

Annushka: The woman who spills sunflower oil and causes Berlioz’s death.

Citizen with Checkered Jacket (also known as “Koroviev,” “the choirmaster,” and “Fagott”): Initially a phantasm seen by Berlioz, he is later to be revealed as Woland’s accomplice.

Berlioz and Ivan appear at Moscow’s Patriarch’s Ponds as the spring sun sets and sit down at a food stand along the oddly desolate walk running parallel to Malaya Bronnaya Street. After they drink apricot soda, Berlioz feels a spasm in his heart and perceives “a blunt needle lodged in it,” and is gripped with a worrisome fear. A tall, transparent citizen dressed in a short checkered jacket appears briefly, striking further terror in him. But Berlioz calms down to talk with Ivan about the poem about Jesus that Ivan has written for the next issue of a journal edited by Berlioz. Berlioz points out that Ivan, who has adopted the literary pseudonym “Homeless,” has concentrated on portraying Jesus as a bad person, whereas he should have focused on portraying the fabricated existence of Jesus as a myth.

As Berlioz starts telling Ivan about other mythological gods with the same characteristics as Jesus, a man who is about 40 years old, of foreign appearance and wearing grey shoes and a matching grey suit, appears on the walk. He is carrying a stick with a black knob shaped like a poodle’s head, and his teeth are covered by “platinum crowns on the left side and gold on the right.” He joins Ivan and Berlioz’s conversation, speaking Russian with a clean foreign...

(The entire section is 754 words.)