Narration – from a third party. Many dialogues. The plot is dynamic, eventful, largely melodramatic.
Ended the last evening of Yegor Prokudin in the zone. In the morning, the chief is admonishing him. We learn that Yegor dreams about his farm, the cow. His future wife is Lyubov Fyodorovna Baikalova. He never saw her, they know each other only by correspondence. The chief advises you to get dressed.
Coming out of prison, Prokudin enjoys the spring, feels a surge of strength, rejoices in the sense of life. In the regional center Egor comes to his comrades “on the hut”. There are many young people there. Among others – Guboshlep, Bulldog, Lucien. They are waiting for a call from accomplices: they commit another robbery. Egor does not want to talk about the zone, he wants to rest from cruelty. They dance with Lucien. It is felt that no one shares Yegor’s moods, not even Lucien. Guboshlep is nervous, a little jealous of Lucien to Egor. The bell is ringing: militia has covered accomplices, everyone needs to scatter. Egor is also running, although it is risky for him. He tries to find his friends in the city, but they do not want to answer him.
“And then the regional bus brought Egor to the village of Yasnoe” – to Luba. She meets him at the bus stop. In the teahouse, he says that he was an accountant, got into jail by accident. Lyuba knows that he is a thief-recidivist, but he hopes that Yegor will find a way in a normal life. She leads him to introduce her parents. Lyuba uses Egor’s “legend” about an accountant, so as not to frighten his parents. But when Yegor remains alone with them, Lyuba’s father starts “questioning” Yegor. That sarcastically responds: they say, he killed seven, the eighth did not work. Egor believes that everyone can be in prison, and there is nothing to torment a person if he decided to start a new life. Yegor tries on the mask of a public figure, a communist, “exposing” the “backward” old people.
NB. He is characterized by artistry, he is ironic, often plays a role, recalls poems, songs, aphorisms. In this case, in people, he seeks sincerity.
Egor gets acquainted with Peter, brother of Lyuba. Petro and Egor go to the bath. Petro is indifferent to the past of the hero, and to himself: he does not want to get acquainted, to communicate. Yegor does not like to feel like a poor relative, to smile at everything and at the same time feel distrust of himself. Petro does not react to Yegor’s grievances, and after a while Yegor realizes that Petro does not have any prejudices: he is simply not talkative.
Zoya, Peter’s wife, and Lyuba’s mother are discussing Yegor with her. Luba expressed disapproval. Women express the common opinion of the whole village. Unexpectedly, Lyuba is protected by her father. Here you can hear Peter screaming. Egor unintentionally scalded him with boiling water. Zoya was horrified, Lyuba’s father clutched at the ax – but it all turned out to be a joke. Neighbors on the street actively discuss what happened.
NB. Shukshin sometimes changes his point of view, creating a lot of voices.
The evening in the house of the Baikalovs is peaceful and peaceful. Old people remember some old relatives, Lyuba shows photos, Yegor and Petro peacefully joke about the incident in the bath. At night, Egor can not sleep, he wants to talk with Anyone, she sends him out with the approval of his mother, but also can not fall asleep.
Egor leaves for the district center. He honestly tells Lyuba: “Maybe I will return.” Maybe not. ” On the way he imagines that his friends are coming back for him. He thinks about the Creep. In the district center he goes to the telegraph office and sends him money. At this time, a friend at work Varya advises Lyuba to quit Egor and take back her ex-husband – Kolka. Obviously, fellow villagers do not like Lyuba’s act, not because Egor can be unreliable, but because Luba is not behaving like everyone else. Varya begins to tell cheerfully how wonderful she lives with her husband, an alcoholic, whom she beats with a rolling pin.
Egor goes to the restaurant, where he arranges a “picnic”. He feeds and pisses strangers. The most drunk peasants gather. Yegor spends a lot of money. He calls Luba and says that he must stay for the night – he has not settled the issues with the military enlistment office. At this time, the mother asks incredulously from Lyuba, where Egor. Again, his father defends his daughter and helps to believe in another “legend” of Egor.
Yegor... continues to “deprave”: drinking, singing, dancing, uttering the life-affirming pathos of speech. In the end, Yegor distributes the remaining money, takes brandy and chocolate, sits in a taxi and goes to Yasnoye. He comes to Peter, offers a drink in the bath. In this “tight black world” they drink brandy and meet the dawn with a song “I’m sitting behind bars in a damp dump.”
In the morning he escorts Lyuba to the farm. On the road, they talk. Among other things, Luba mentions her ex-husband Kolka, who always drinks. Egor recalls his childhood, mother and cow Manka. Lyuba introduces Yegor to the director of the farm, Dmitry Vladimirovich. She arranges Yegor as a driver for the farm: the director just urgently needed a driver. Egor did not like the director: “smooth, satisfied.” Director Egor also does not like: “meaningless obstinate”.
NB. Again Shukshin plays points of view, trying to be objective.
The director gives the assignment – to pick up brigadier Saveliev in the village of Sosnovka. Yegor carries out the assignment, but, having returned, refuses to continue working. The tractor is lighter.
NB. Shukshin does not explain many of the hero’s actions, creating intrigue, psychological overtones. Apparently, Yegor seems that the tractor driver is a more independent position than the driver of the director’s personal car. Perhaps the mood of Yegor has changed because of the visit to Sosnovka: later we learn that his mother lives there.
Yegor asks for a tipper from Peter and takes Lyuba with him. On the way, he explains to her that he wants to call on an old woman, Kudelikha. Ostensibly asked him to find out about her health. Luba should be introduced as a worker in the district and ask about her. The old woman talks about herself, that the children are all amazed. Lyuba calms her down. Yegor sits in silence, wearing sunglasses. When they left, he tells Lyuba that this is his mother.
At home to Lyuba comes her ex-husband with three friends. Yegor drags him out of the house. They go to the trees, a fight begins. Kolka with rehash, so there remains a bit. On Yegor rushes one more – Yegor stops with one blow. Kolka runs away, grabs the stake, goes to Egor – Yegor stops him with a look.
In the morning Yegor made the first furrow in life. He breathes the smell of plowed land and feels the joy of it.
NB. With the help of improper direct speech Shukshin depicts the thoughts and memories of the hero. In this episode, the boundary between the third person and the first is not always visible, because the second appears. Shukshin made the leitmotif of the story the image of buzzing telegraph wires. Later we will meet this way when Egor is killed.
Shura comes to Egor – one of his former accomplices. They talk about something, Shura transfers money from Guboshlep, but Yegor throws this money into Shura’s face. He leaves. Lyuba worries, Yegor tries to calm her down, but it is clear that he himself is not in the spirit.
The next day they work in the field. It is already sown. Egor notes that the forest is a black Volga. He sees there Guboshlep, Buldu and Lucien. He goes to them. Lucien, meanwhile, demands that Guboshlep not touch Egor. But Guboshlep expresses his emotion emotionally: he does not like that Egor is now almost a saint, and only they are sinners. We learn that there is a danger over Guboshlep and therefore he wants to have time to deal with Yegor.
NB. There is an obvious parallel between Shukshin’s anger and the disapproval of the rural public of Lyuba’s act: people never like when someone does their own way, unconventionally.
Luba sees Yegor go to the forest with someone. She runs home – it turns out, the father even explained to them how to drive. Here Lyuba stops the dump truck Petro, they go towards the forest. The criminals see this, they call him Guboshlepa – he runs out of the woods, hides something under his clothes and they leave.
Egor was seriously wounded. Lyuba and Petro put him in a dump truck, they quickly take him. But then Yegor feels that he is dying and asks to be put on the ground. He asks Lyuba to take his money and give it to his mother.
“And he lay, a Russian peasant, in his native steppe, near the house… He lay with his cheek to the ground, as if he was listening to something that he could hear, and so he pressed himself to the posts in his childhood.”
Petro is catching up with the Volga. People are running. The fate of criminals is predetermined.