Kerala State Board New Syllabus Plus One English Textbook Answers Unit 5 Chapter 1 Gooseberries Text Book Questions and Answers, Summary, Notes.
Kerala Plus One English Textbook Answers Unit 5 Chapter 1 Gooseberries (Story)
Gooseberries (Story) Textual Questions and Answers
What purpose does the first sentence serve?
The first sentence serves as a suitable introduction to a story which itself talks about a sad and gloomy situation. It looks like rain but it does not come. Happiness is like the rain here. It looks like happiness but it is not there!
Can you guess what story Ivan was about to tell Bourkin?
The story is of two brothers who pursue happiness in their own ways.
How do you feel when it rains?
I feel sad and gloomy when it rains. I prefer sunshine to rain.
Describe Aliokhin’s appearance.
Aliokhin was about 40, tall and stout. He had long hair. He looked more like a professor or a painter than a farmer. At the time we see him first he was wearing a grimy white short and rope belt, and pants instead of trousers. His boots were covered with mud and straw. His nose and eyes were black with dust.
Why couldn’t Aliokhin bathe regularly despite having a good bathing shed?
Aliokhin couldn’t bathe regularly despite having a good bathing shed because he had no time.
How did Ivan respond to the rain?
Ivan responded to the rain by plunging into the water with a splash. He swam about in the rain, flapping his arms, and sending waves back. He swam out to the middle of the pool and dived, trying to reach the bottom. He shouted with glee and said how delicious it was.
When did Ivan start narrating his story?
After Ivan’s bath they all went to the house. The lamp was lit in the large drawing-room upstairs. Bourkin and Ivan were dressed in silk dressing-gowns and wore warm slippers. They sat in chairs. Aliokhin was also washed and brushed. He wore a new frock-coat. He paced up and down. It was then that Ivan began his story.
How did the brothers spend their childhood after their father’s death?
After their father’s death, the estate went to pay his debts. The children spent their childhood in the country. They were like peasants’ children. They spent their days and nights in the fields and the wood. They minded the horses, took the bark of the lime trees and fished.
Comment on Ivan’s view on the saying that a man needs only six feet of land.
It is a common saying that a man needs only 6 feet of land, the land for his grave. But Ivan says 6 feet of land is for the corpse and not for. a man. He needs much more.
“To leave town, and the struggle and swim of life, and go and hide oneself in a farmhouse is not life – it is egoism, laziness.” Do you agree? Why?
Yes, I agree. We have only one life. We should be able to make the best use of it. We should see the world a bit and we should make use of all the talents that God has given us. Hiding in a farmhouse, away from the hustle of bustle of life would be living like a frog in a well, not knowing what is going on outside.
What was the difference in the attitudes of Ivan and Nicholai towards life?
Nicholai wanted to live in a farmhouse. He wanted to eat in the open air, sleep in the sun, and sit for hours together on a seat by the gate and look at the fields and the forest. He wanted garden walls, flowers, fruits, nuts, carp in the pond and such things. He was very fond of gooseberry bushes. Ivan did not have such an attitude. He also loved country life as he lived there as a child, but his love for it was not as passionate as his brother’s.
What was Nicholai’s dream?
His dream was to live in the country, eating out in the open air, sleeping in the sun and sitting for hours together on a seat by the gate and gazing at the fields and the forest. He wanted to sit on the veranda drinking tea and watching his ducklings swim in the pond, and everything smelling good. His dream house always had a gooseberry-bush in it.
Mention some of the advantages of country life.
Country life has many advantages. One can eat out in the open air, sleep in the sun and sit for hours together on a seat by the gate and gaze at the fields and the forest. One can sit on the veranda drinking tea and watch the ducklings swim in the pond and everything smells good. There is fresh air in the countryside and there is less dust, smoke and traffic noise. Country life is definitely healthier than city life.
‘Fixed goals help us achieve success in life.’ What is your opinion?
I fully agree with the statement that fixed goals help us achieve success in life. It is so because goals give a sense of direction to our work. Once we have the sense of direction and goals are fixed our work becomes goal-oriented and we can succeed in life.
What are the sacrifices Nicholai made to achieve his goal?
To achieve his goal, Nicholai lived meagrely. He never had enough to eat or drink. He dressed almost like a beggar. He always saved the money and put it into the bank. He was terribly stingy. Ivan used to feel hurt seeing his brother like this and he used to give him money to go away for a holiday. But he would put that money also in the bank.
Nicholai had to buy an estate quite different from what he had dreamt of. But he did not grieve much. How would you behave in such a situation?
I would feel very sad. After making so much of sacrifice for so long, if I could not get the kind of thing I had hoped for I would be grieved.
What were the ‘good works’ of Nicholai? How did he care for his peasants?
Nicholai looked after his soul and did good works pompously. The good works included curing the peasants of all kinds of diseases with soda and castor-oil. On his birthday he would have a thanksgiving service held in the middle of the village. He would treat the peasants to half a bucket of vodka. He thought it was the right thing to do.
The gooseberries were unripe and sour, but Nicholai found them delicious. Why?
The gooseberries were unripe and sour, but Nicholai found them delicious because they were his own gooseberries. Even the ugliest child would look most beautiful to its mother.
Was Nicholai happy with his life? How do you know?
Nicholas was happy with his life. His dearest dream had come true, He had attained his goal in life. He had got what he wanted. He was pleased with his destiny and with himself. We see him laughing with joy looking at his first gooseberries. When he looked at them there were tears of joy in his eyes.
What distinction did Ivan make between the happy and the unhappy?
Contentment is an overwhelming power. The happy man feels he is happy and he is happy. The unhappy man bears his burden in silence.
What, according to Ivan, was the relevance of freedom?
According to Ivan freedom is a boon, as essential as the air we breathe, freedom should be instant and not something that Hornes after a long wait.
Why did Ivan find it difficult to live in town after visiting his brother?
Ivan found it difficult to live in town after visiting his brother because the peace and quiet of the town oppressed him. He did not dare to look in at the windows because to him nothing was more dreadful to see than the sight of a happy family, sitting round at table, having tea. He was an old man now and he was no good for the struggle.
What change in attitude came over Ivan at the end?
Ivan asked forgiveness from God. He realised that his previous attitude was wrong.
How can happiness be achieved in life?
Happiness can be achieved in life by getting your dreams realized. Gooseberries may be hard and sour for Ivan but they were delicious for Nicholai. Happiness differs from person to person. One man’s meat is another man’s poison and one man’s religion is another man’s madness. There are no common criteria for happiness. Prayer, sacrifice, fasting and abstinence may make some people happy. But others feel happy when they are rich and successful.
Activity – I (Read and Respond)
What lesson does Ivan seek to learn from his brother’s life?
The lesson Ivan seeks to learn from his brother’s life is to know how the hard and sour gooseberries become delicious to him.
Compare Aliokhin’s first appearance in the story with that of Nicholai.
When he sees him first Aliokhin was standing at the threshold. He was about 40, tall and stout. He had long hair. He looked more like a professor or a painter than a farmer. He was wearing a grimy white short and rope belt, and pants instead of trousers. His boots were covered with mud and straw. His nose and eyes were black with dust. Nicholai was 2 years younger to his brother Ivan. Nicholai was at the Exchequer Court when he was 19. He was not happy at the Exchequer. For years he was sitting in the same place, writing the same documents. He was thinking of only one thing – how to get back to the country and buy a small farm near the bank of a river or lake.
The story begins and ends in rain. What does the imagery convey to you?
The imagery conveys to me a gloomy atmosphere. There is no joy and mirth.
Why do you think the story is titled Gooseberries?
The story is titled ‘Gooseberries’ because life is very much like gooseberries. Gooseberries are sour and sweet. Similarly life too is sour (bitter) and sweet. Nicholai lives all his life like a miser and even marries an ugly widow to get money to buy the estate with a gooseberry bush. The state he bought does not have a gooseberry bush and so he plants some. Later he eats the gooseberries from the plants he had planted and looks pleased when he eats them. Gooseberries may be sweet for one, but sour for another. Life is like that. One man’s food is another man’s poison and one man’s religion is another man’s madness.
Identify the climax of the story.
The climax of the story is when in the night Ivan watches his brother Nicholai going again and again to the plate of gooseberries and eating gooseberries. That night Ivan was able to understand he too had been content and happy. We don’t have to wait for happiness.
Rain has an additional symbolic relevance in this story. Can you identify other symbols?
The other symbols are, Gooseberries, six feet of land, the name Himalayskoe, the red-haired dog, soda & castor oil curing all diseases and the family sitting round a table having coffee.
Analyze Ivan’s argument against happiness (‘There is nothing sadder than the sight of a happy man’).
Ivan argument against happiness stems from the fact that he has no family. He says that nothing is more dreadful to see than the sight of a happy family, sitting round table, having tea. Everybody has his idea of happiness. But Ivan’s idea of happiness seems to be peculiarly his own. I don’t agree with him.
How does Chekhov develop his theme in the story? What are the techniques used? (story within the story, realism, irony, symbolism)
Chekhov’s theme in the story is finding happiness. Nicholai finds happiness in eating strawberries. He thinks he can make the peasants happy by giving them half a bucket of vodka. People pursue happiness in different ways. Some find happiness in eating, drinking and merrymaking. Some find happiness in strict ascetic life. Some find happiness in serving others and making sacrifices for them.
Chekhov develops his theme by using different techniques. There is a story within a story. Ivan and Bourkin are walking. It is raining and they take shelter in the farmhouse of Aliokhin. Then Ivan tells the story of his brother Nicholai, how he sought happiness. Chekhov uses realism in unfolding the story. The account of the life of Ivan and his brother Nicholai in the village after the death of their father is highly realistic. There is also realism in the description of Aliokhin and his farmhouse.
Irony is an important ingredient Chekhov has used. Nicholai eats gooseberry after gooseberry to feel happy and contented. We know how gooseberry is. Nicholai lived all his life like a miser, not eating and drinking properly, not dressing properly, to eat gooseberries, He even married an ugly widow to eat gooseberries!
Chekhov is a master in the use of symbolism. He has used the symbol of rain to great effect. It gives the entire story a sad and melancholic mood. The red¬haired dog which looks like a pig is an excellent symbol. So is the symbol of the family sitting round the table enjoying their coffee. Both Nicholai and Ivan have their peculiar, even perverted, sense of happiness. It is a relevant question to ask whether our own sense of happiness is normal or something queer.
Activity – II (Review)
Based on the above points, attempt a review of Chekhov’s ‘Gooseberries’ bearing in mind the following hints:
Read and recall what you have read and formulate your own observations.
- Writing style/presentation
- Depiction of landscape
- Symbolic relevance
Chekhov’s story ‘Gooseberries’ is essentially a satire on man’s search for happiness. Here we see two brothers – Ivan and Nicholai – seeking to be happy. Ivan is a veterinary doctor and Nicholai is an official at the Exchequer. Nicholai is fed up with his job – sitting in the same place and writing out the same documents. His dreams were centred round a farmhouse with a garden, an orchard, a fishpond and above all a gooseberry fish. He lives like a miser to get his ideal place. He even marries an old ugly widow to fulfil his dream. In the end he buys an estate with a farmhouse but it had no orchard, no duck-pond and no gooseberry bush. He plants some gooseberry bushes in his new estate. His joy in life is going on eating the gooseberries his gooseberry bushes produce.
Checkhov has presented the story in a fine way, as a story inside another story. We are curious to know what happens to Nicholai after all his sacrifices. The characterization by Chekhov has been excellent. There are only 4 main characters in the story Ivan, Nicholai, Bourkin and Aliokhin. We are also told about Tchimsha Himalaysky, the father of Ivan and Nicholai. The characterization of Nicholai and Aliokhin stand out as superb.
Chekhov has presented the landscape in exquisite beauty. We see the endless farms and the windmills. We can see the dreamland of Nicholai – an estate with a farmhouse, a river nearby, garden, mill, mill¬pond, garden-walls, flowers, fruits, nests, carp and ducklings in the pond. It is country side at its best. Chekhov is a master in the use of symbol. The rain, gooseberries, six feet of land, the name Himalayskoe, the red-haired dog, soda & castor oil curing all diseases and the family sitting round a table having coffee, are all symbols. They make a powerful impact on the readers.
Activity – III (Write-up)
According to Chekhov, ‘money, like vodka, plays queer tricks with man ’. How far is this statement relevant in the present-day world? Prepare a write-up on the topic.
in the present day world, the statement by Chekhov that money, like vodka, plays queer tricks with man’ is highly relevant. When a person drinks vodka he feels that he can do anything, Alcohol gives even a weak man courage to speak out his mind. We often suppress our feelings because of fear. But once some vodka gets into us, our tongues become loose and we can say anything without any fear. The same is the case with money. Once people have money they think they can do anything and speak anything. In the present day world, there is a lot of corruption and so people with money can get away from punishment by bribing the authorities. Money, like vodka, intoxicates a person and gives him courage to do things he would not normally do. It is called Dutch courage.
Activity – IV (Debate)
Read the following lines from the story. ‘Freedom is a boon as essential as the air we breathe.’ How far is this statement true in the case of an individual?
Is freedom essential for an individual? Debate the topic.
(Study the tips given on page 141 of the text.)
Arguments in favour of freedom:
- Freedom is a natural thing.
- Only with freedom we can develop to our full potential.
- Freedom forces us to be independent.
- With freedom we choose what we want and do what we want.
- Freedom enables us to be what we want to be, and not what others want us to be.
- All living creatures love freedom. You may make a golden cage fora bird, keep it in an air-conditioned room and give it the best and costliest food. But it won’t be happy to be confined to the cage. It would fly away the moment you open the cage, because it prefers its freedom to food and comfort.
Arguments against freedom:
- Absolute freedom is impossible and undesirable.
- Your freedom might cause problems to others.
- If everybody doe^ what he wants, there will be chaos in the society?
- Imagine the situation if you drive freely on our roads.
- Regulations are necessary for a peaceful and enjoyable life.
- Even Nature follows a discipline – the sun rises and sets in time, seasons come and go.
Activity – V (Seminar)
In the story, ‘Gooseberries’ represent whatever is indigenous, whatever should be preserved to retain the culture of the countryside. Do you think that it is our responsibility to preserve our indigenous culture? Conduct a seminar on this topic.
Present you paper in the class. You may take note of the following guidelines:
- Theoretical background- what others say on the topic
- Research – connect theoretical background
- Conclusion – your references and findings – reflect on what you have been able to prove.
Our seminar today discusses the question “Is it our responsibility to preserve our indigenous culture?” I would start by saying it is our duty to do so. Every nation and every tribe has a culture. India is a nation of mixed cultures. That is why Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru talked about university in diversity. Although we have different cultures and traditions, ultimately we are all Indians, the children of Bharat Mata.
Culture can be defined as the patterns of behavior and thinking that people living in social groups learn, create, and share. Culture distinguishes one human group from others. It also distinguishes humans from other animals. A people’s culture includes their beliefs, rules of behaviour, language, rituals, art, technology, styles of dress, ways of producing and cooking food, religion, and political and economic systems. Anthropologists commonly use the term culture to refer to a society or group in which many or all people live and think in the same ways. Likewise, any group of people who share a common culture and in particular, common rules of behaviour and a basic form of social organization constitutes a society. Thus, the terms culture and society are often interchangeable.
The objective of preserving culture is to bring about unity. For survival unity is essential. Unity is strength; united we stand, divided we fall. So we ought to preserve our culture. But at the same time we should not be rigid. We should never become jingoistic about our culture.
The world has seen may wars fought in the name of culture as one group tries to impose its culture on another group. We hear about tribal wars and ethnic cleansing. These are caused by extremists who feel that their culture is the best. I would say that even as we preserve our culture, we should respect the culture of others. The principle should ‘Live and let others live.’
Activity – VI (“Wh” Interrogatives)
We use ‘wh’ interrogatives to make questions. Study the set of questions given on p. 142 and 143. Reported Questions: Read the notes and examples given on page 143.
Frame questions to get the underlined words as answer.
Example: He bought twenty gooseberry bushes.
What did he buy? Or How many gooseberry bushes did he buy?
1. They went to Aliokhin’s barn.
2. He was a gentle, good-natured fellow.
3. We have spent our childhood running wild in the country.
4. Ivan saw a happy man.
5. I went away from my brother’s house early in the morning.
6. That night, Ivan realized that he too was happy and contented.
1. Where did they go?
2. What type (kind) of a man was he?
3. How have you spent your childhood?
5. Whom did Ivan see? Or What type of a man did Ivan see?
6. What did Ivan realize that night?
Activity – VII (Exclamations)
Change the following assertive sentences into exclamatory sentences.
It was a great beautiful land.
What a great, beautiful land!
The water looked cold and contaminated.
How cold and contaminated the water looked!
That was a very interesting dream.
What an interesting dream it was!
Nicholai is very generous.
Nicholai is so generous!
It would be nice if I were young once again.
How I wish to be young once again!
He is an incredibly positive man.
What an incredibly positive man he is!
II. Read And Enjoy
In Chekhov’s “Gooseberries”, after visiting his brother Nicholai, Ivan’s head is hot with the rush of ideas and he can’t sleep. Have you ever lain awake, sleepless at night? Describe your experience. Let’s see what Wordsworth has to say about sleep.
Gooseberries (Story) About the Author
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860-1904) was a Russian physician, dramatist and author. He is one of the greatest short story writers. ‘Gooseberries’ is the middle story in a trilogy of Chekhov’s stories. The first is entitled The Man in a Shell’ and the last is titled ‘About Love’. All are united in theme – the isolation and escape from life. This story has much irony and humour and is poetic in mood.
Gooseberries (Story) Summary in English
Page 132: From early morning the sky had been overcast with clouds. The day was still, cool and wearisome. It looked like it would rain but it never came. Ivan Ivanich, the veterinary surgeon, and Bourkin, the schoolmaster, were tired of walking. The fields seemed endless to them. Far ahead they could see the windmills of the village of Mirousky. Nature looked gentle and melancholic and the two men were filled with love for the fields and thought how nice the country was.
Bourkin reminded Ivan of the story he had promised to tell him. Ivan told him that he wanted to tell him about his brother. Ian took a deep breath and lit his pipe before he began his story. But soon the rain fell and showed no signs of stopping.
Page 133: Bourkin said they would take shelter in Aliokhin’s place. They took a short cut until they came to a road. Soon they came to a mill and a white bathing- shed. It was Sophino where Aliokhin lived.
The mill was working, drowning the sound of rain. It was wet, muddy and unpleasant. Ivan and Bourkin felt wet and unpleasant. Their feet were tired with walking in the mud.
In one of the bams a winnowing machine was working. It was sending out clouds of dust. Aliokhin was standing at the threshold. He was about 40, tall and stout. He had long hair. He looked more like a professor or a painter than a farmer’ He was wearing a grimy white short and rope belt, and pants instead of trousers. His boots were covered with mud and straw. His nose and eyes were black with dust. He recognized Ivan and was pleased.
He asked Ivan and Bourkin to go into his house. He would soon follow. The house was large and two storied. Aliokhin lived downstairs. Ivan and Bourkin were received by a chambermaid.
Soon Aliokhin came showing his pleasure at seeing his friend and his companion. He said he never expected them. He asked the maid, Pelagueya, to give them a change of clothes. He also would change. Before changing he will have a bath. He hasn’t had one since the spring. He invited them to come to the bathing shed. Things will be got ready soon.
Aliokhin led his guests to the bathing-shed. He repeated that he did not have a bath for a long time. He had a good bathing shed, His father and he put it up, but he has no time to bathe. He sat down on the step and lathered his long hair and neck. The water round him became brown.
Page 134: Ivan came out of the shed. He plunged into the water with a splash. He swam about in the rain, flapping his arms, and sending waves back. He swam out to the middle of the pool and dived, trying to reach the bottom. He shouted with glee and said how delicious it was. Bourkin and Aliokhin were already dressed and ready to go. But Ivan kept on swimming and diving.
He continued shouting ‘Delicious’. Bourkin told him it was enough. They went to the house. The lamp was lit in the large drawing-room upstairs. Bourkin and Ivan were dressed in silk dressing-gowns and wore warm slippers. They sat in chairs. Aliokhin was also washed and brushed. He wore a new frock-coat. He paced up and down. Ivan then began his story.
They were two brothers- Ivan and Nicholai. Nicholai was 2 years younger. Ivan went in for studies and became a veterinary surgeon. Nicholai was at the Exchequer Court when he was 19. Their father, Tchimsha- Himalaysky, was a cantonist (service obliged military person). He died with an officer’s rank and left them his title of nobility and a small estate. After his death, the estate went to pay his debts. They spent their childhood in the country. They were like peasants’ children. They spent their days and nights in the fields and the wood. They minded the horses, took the bark of the lime trees and fished.
Once a man has fished or watched the thrushes (small song birds) hovering in flocks over the village in the bright cool autumn days, he can never be a townsman. Ivan’s brother Nicholai was not happy at the Exchequer. For years he was sitting in the same place, writing the same documents. He was thinking of only one thing – how to get back to the country and buy a small farm near the bank of a river or lake.
Page 135: He was a good fellow and Ivan loved him. But Ivan did not like his idea of shutting himself upon his farm. It is a common saying that a man needs only 6 feet of land. It is the corpse that wants it, not a man. To leave town, and the struggle and swim of life, and go and hide yourself in a farmhouse is not life – it is egoism, laziness.
Nicholai, sitting his office, would dream of eating in the open air, and of sleeping in the sun, sitting for hours together on a seat by the gate and looking at the fields and the forest. He enjoyed books on agriculture, the hints in almanacs (calendars) and reading the newspaper advertisements of land to be sold, with a farmhouse, river, garden, mill and mill-pond. He would dream of garden walls, flowers, fruits, nets, carp in the pond and such things. His fantasies used to vary according to the advertisements he found. However in every fantasy of his there was always a gooseberry bush. He could not imagine a house or a romantic spot without a gooseberry bush.
He used to say that countryside has its advantages. You sit on the veranda drinking tea and your ducklings swim in the pond and everything smells good … and there are gooseberries.
He used to live meagrely. He never had enough to eat or drink. He dressed almost like a beggar. He always saved the money and put it into the bank. He was terribly stingy. Ivan used to feel hurt seeing him like this and he used to give him money to go away for a holiday. But he would put that money also in the bank. Once a man gets a fixed idea, there is nothing to be done.
Years passed. Nicholai completed his 40th year and was still reading advertisements in papers and saving up his money. Then he was married. With the idea of buying a farmhouse with a gooseberry-bush he married an elderly, ugly widow, not out of any feeling for her but because she had money. With her he still lived stingily, kept her half-starved and put the money into the bank in his own name. Money, like vodka, can play strange tricks with a man.
Page 136: After the death of his wife, Nicholai began to look for an estate. Through an agent, Nicholai raised a mortgage and bought 300 acres with a farmhouse, a cottage, and a park. But it had no orchard, no gooseberry- bush and no duck-pond. There was a river but the water was coffee-coloured because the estate lay between a brickyard and a gelatine factory. Nicholai was not worried about that. He ordered 20 gooseberry-bushes and settled down to a country life.
Last year Ivan visited him to find out how things were with him. In his letter he called his estate Tchimbarshov Corner or Himalayskoe. Ivan reached there in the afternoon. It was hot. There were ditches, fences, hedges, rows of young fir-trees, trees everywhere. There was no place to put the horse. Ivan went to the house and there he was met by a red-haired dog, as fat as a pig. He tried to bark and felt too lazy. From the kitchen the cook came. The cook was barefooted and looked like a pig. Ivan was told that Nicholai was having his afternoon rest. Ivan went into his brother who was sitting on his bed with his knees covered with a blanket. He looked old, stout and flabby. His cheeks, nose and lips were hanging loosely. Ivan said he half expected his brother to grunt like a pig.
They embraced and shed a tear of joy thinking that once they were young. Now they were going grey and nearing death. Nicholai dressed and took Ivan to see his estate.
Page 137: Ivan waited to know how Nicholai was getting on. He said he was doing very well. He was no longer a poor, tired official but a real landowner and a person of importance. Like a good landowner, he looked after his soul and did good works pompously. The good works included curing the peasants of all kinds of diseases with soda and castor-oil. On his birthday he would have a thanksgiving service held in the middle of the village. He would treat the peasants to half a bucket of vodka. He thought it was the right thing to do.
Ivan says a change took place in him when he was in his brother’s house. In the evening when they were having tea, the cook laid a plateful of gooseberries on the table. They were not bought but were Nicholai’s own, plucked for the first time since the bushes were planted. Nicholai laughed with joy and for a minute or two he looked at the gooseberries with tears in his eyes. He could not speak for excitement. He put one in his mouth and glanced at Ivan in triumph. He said they were good and asked him to try one.
The gooseberry was hard and sour but Ivan saw a happy man whose dearest dream had come true, who had attained his goal in life, who had got what he wanted, and was pleased with his destiny and with himself. In Ivan’s idea of human life there is always some alloy of sadness, but now at the sight of a happy man he was filled with something like despair. In the night the feeling got stronger. A bed was made for Ivan near his brother’s. He could not sleep and he heard Nicholai going again and again to the plate of gooseberries. Ivan thought about the many contented and happy people. Contentment is an overwhelming power. We want this state. A happy man feels so because the unhappy bear their burden in silence. Without that, happiness would be impossible.
That night Ivan was able to understand how he too had been content and happy. He used to say that freedom was a boon as essential as the air one breathes, but one had to wait. But now he wanted to know why people had to wait.
Ivan looked angrily at Bourkin. He asked him why one has to wait. Why do people fast? People are told that they can’t have everything at once and that every idea is realized in time. Who says that and where is the proof for that? Why should people wait?
Ivan left his brother the next morning. From that time it was impossible for him to live in town. The peace and quiet of it oppresses him. He does not want to look in at the windows because nothing is dreadful to see than the sight of a happy family, sitting round a table having tea. He is an old man now and he is no good for struggle. He started late. He can only feel sorry within his soul and feel angry. At night his head buzzes with so many thoughts and he can’t sleep. He regrets that he is old.
Ivan suddenly shook the hands of Aliokhin and told him not to be satisfied. He should not let himself be lulled to sleep. While one is young, strong and wealthy he should not stop to do good. Happiness does not exist. If there is any meaning and purpose in life, they are not in our peddling little happiness, but in something reasonable and grand. Do good.
Page 139: Then all three sat in different corners of the drawing room and were silent. Ivan’s story had satisfied neither Bourkin nor Aliokhin. It is boring to hear the story of a miserable official who ate gooseberries. They had a desire to hear and to speak of charming people, and of women. Sitting in the drawing-room was much better than any story.
Aliokhin wanted to go to bed. He had to get up for his work very early, about two in the morning. His eyes were closing. Bourkin said it was time to go to bed and wished them good night. Aliokhin said good night and went downstairs, and left his guests. Each had a large room with an old wooden bed and carved ornaments. Ivan undressed in silence and lay down. He asked forgiveness from God as he drew the clothes over his head. The rain beat against the windows all night long.
Gooseberries (Story) Vocabulary