Pushkin’s story “The Shot” was written in 1830 and entered the famous Boldin cycle of the writer “The Tale of Belkin.” The story refers to the literary realism direction and narrates the history of the duel of the retired hussar Silvio and Count B ***. The story consists of two sections, in the first the narrator learns the beginning of the story from Silvio, in the second – its completion from the count.
Silvio – a man of about thirty-five years, served in the hussars, but resigned, after which he settled in a poor place. His greatest passion was shooting from a pistol, for many years he had been intent on bringing the duel to the end with the count.
The narrator is a young army officer, who left the village
Count B *** – “a man of about thirty-two, beautiful by himself,” the opponent of Silvio in a duel.
Countess B *** – “beauty”, the wife of Count B ***.
The life of army officers in the town *** was rather monotonous and boring, the military “did not see anything except their uniforms.” The only one who stood out in their society was the retired hussar Silvio – a morose man with a stern temper and an evil tongue, of which officers knew practically nothing. He always generously received the military in his house, and his favorite occupation was shooting from a pistol, which he possessed perfectly.
One evening the officers at Silvio sat down to play cards. Typically, the owner during the game is always silent, without words correcting the mistakes of players in the records. At that time among the officers there was a new one who did not know about the habits of Silvio. Noticing the actions of the host, he flared up and threw a copper candlestick at Silvio. Angry, the owner asked him to leave. Contrary to the expectations of the officers, Silvio did not avenge the offender, which shook his reputation among the military, but over time this story was forgotten.
Once Silvio received a letter, which he read with impatience, and then told the officers that he needed to leave urgently, and he invited everyone to his house “for the last time.” After supper Silvio asked the narrator, with whom he was on friendly terms, to stay for conversation. To the amazement of the interlocutor, Silvio said that he did not call the officer to a duel at that time, because he has no right to expose himself to mortal danger – “six years ago I received a slap in the face, and my enemy is still alive.”
In his youth, serving in the *** hussar regiment, Silvio was the “first ruffian in the army”, constantly participated in duels and officer’s feasts. His comrades adored him, and the commanders looked at him as “a necessary evil.” However, somehow a man was transferred to them “of a rich and noble family.” He tried to make friends with Silvio, but the man, jealous of success, luck and the status of a new one, hated him. Once at a ball at the Polish landowner Silvio quarreled with a favorite of fortune, he flared up and slapped him.
The duel was appointed at dawn. They threw lots, the first to shoot the rival. He shot and hit Silvio in his cap. Silvio’s turn came, however, enraged by the complete indifference of the rival to what was happening, the man lowered his gun and, saying that he did not want to stop him from eating breakfast, finished the fight.
After the incident, Silvio retired and every day he thought about revenge, and, finally, the time has come. The owner showed the narrator the letter that had come, in which it was said that the “well-known person” – that same man, should soon marry. Silvio goes to Moscow, wanting to see, “so indifferently he will accept death before his wedding, as he once waited for her for cherries.”
Several years have passed. According to domestic circumstances, the narrator settled in the “poor village of H ** uyezd”. He was very lonely here – from boredom neither books, nor communication with the housekeeper, nor conversations with the “bitter” neighbors were saved. However, “in the second spring” of life in the village, the narrator learns that the masters, Count and Countess B, come to the nearby rich estate rather soon.
Neighbors took the narrator very friendly. During a friendly conversation with the count and the countess, the narrator noticed a painting that “was shot through with two bullets, thrust one into another” and, noting the accuracy of the arrow, remembered his old acquaintance Silvio. Hearing this name, the hosts came to the excitement. As it turned out, the Earl was the same officer whom Silvio had wanted for many years to avenge the indifference during the duel, and the picture is the “monument” of their last meeting.
Five years ago the Earl married, and they spent the honeymoon with the Countess here in the village. Once, on his return from a horse ride, the count was informed that a man waiting in the office would not wait for him. Having learned in the dusty, beard-studded guest of Silvio, the count felt “how the hair suddenly became on him on end.” Silvio said that he came to finish their duel and measured twelve steps. The count ordered no one to enter. Taking out the pistol, Silvio, experiencing the patience of the enemy, long delayed, and then dropped his weapon, offering to cast lots. This time the count again fell first to shoot: “You, the count, are devilishly happy,” Silvio said with a grin.
The count fired and got into the picture. At the moment when Silvio began to take aim, Masha ran into the room and rushed to her husband’s neck. Count, trying to calm his wife, said that they are joking with an old friend. Masha turned to Silvio, asking if this was really so. “He always jokes, Countess,” replied Silvio, “once he gave me a slap in the face, joking shot me this cap, jokingly gave me a misstep now, and now I’m about to joke…” and he wanted to shoot at the count, but the woman rushed to the feet of Silvio. In a fury, the Count called out to her, ordering the enemy to finally fire. However, Silvio said that he was already pleased with the fight, because he saw the confusion and timidity of the count. And with the words “You will remember me, I betray you your conscience” went to the exit, but stopped in the doorway, almost not aiming, shot in the picture exactly in the place where the earl previously got. Silvio left before the earl could come to his senses.
With Silvio, the narrator did not meet again, but he heard that “during the outrage of Alexander Ypsilanti, he commanded an esterist detachment and was killed in the battle of Skulans.”
In the “Shot”, as in the rest of the works of the cycle “The Tales of Belkin,” Pushkin raises the theme of the role of fate, a case in human life. The author reflects on whether someone can dispose of the fate of another person and whether personal satisfaction from victory is really important if the happiness of another person is at stake. The hero of the story Silvio at a decisive moment understands that the earl – an ordinary man, able to fear death, so, in the end, forgives his enemy, leaving the situation “on his conscience.”
A brief retelling of Pushkin’s “Shot” will be useful to schoolchildren, students and anyone who enjoys classical Russian literature.