Summary “A Tale of a Real Man”

The book of Boris Polevoy “The Story of a Real Man” was written in 1946. The prototype of the protagonist of the work was a real historical character – the hero of the USSR, the pilot Alexei Maresiev. The book of Boris Polevoy was awarded the Stalin Prize.

Main characters

Alexei Meresyev – fighter pilot, after the crash of the aircraft for 18 days crawled through the winter forest with damaged legs. Has lost legs, was the only person in the world who flew with dentures.

Vorobyov Semyon is a regimental commissar who, even at death, did not lose his will to live, “a real man.”

Grigory Gvozdev is a lieutenant of tank wax, Hero of the Soviet Union. During one of the battles, he was burnt in a tank.

Struchkov Pavel Ivanovich – major, fighter pilot from the air cover of the capital.

Other characters

Vasily Vasilievich – Doctor, professor of medicine.

Stepan Ivanovich – foreman,

sniper, Hero of the Soviet Union, “Siberian, Hunter”.

Kukushkin Konstantin – the pilot, “an absurd and unruly person.”

Klavdiya Mikhailovna is a nurse in a Moscow hospital.

Anyuta is a student of the medical institute, Gvozdev’s beloved.

Zinochka is a nurse in a sanatorium, she taught Meresva to dance.

Naumov is a lieutenant, instructor of Meresyev.

Part one
Chapters 1-2

Winter. In the battle, pilot Alexei Meresyev “got into double” pliers “- he was surrounded by four German aircraft, the pilot tried to bypass the enemy, but the Germans” podshibli “his plane. Meresiev began to fall swiftly, touching the tops of the pines. Alexey was thrown from the plane and flung at the spruce, the branches of which softened the blow. “Waking up, Meresiev saw a bear in front of him.

Chapter 3

The bear began to tear off Meresjev’s overalls with claws. With the last effort of will Alexei snatched a pistol and shot at the animal from his pocket. The bear died.


tried to get to his feet, “pain in his feet burned the whole body” – the man realized that during the fall his feet hurt. Overcoming severe pain, Alexei took off his boots – his feet were swollen, it is obvious that during the fall the pilot was shattered by small bones.

Looking around, Alexei noticed that he was on a field where there had been a battle. Despite the fact that Meresjev lost the tablet with the map, he approximately oriented himself in the forest and decided to go to the east. Overcoming the pain, Alexei slowly moved forward.

Chapters 4-5

In the evening, Meresiev went to the “sanitary zone” – the place where the wounded were laid. Alexei took off the deceased leather sheath and a knife. In the morning a hungry man found in a bag with a red cross a can of canned goods. Meresjev decided to eat once a day – at noon.

To distract himself, Alexei began to think through the route, counting the steps. Since it was more difficult to go, the man cut out two juniper sticks.

Chapters 6-7

On the third day of the journey, Meresiev found in his pocket a cigarette lighter, which he had completely forgotten. The man finally managed to light a fire and keep warm. On the way, he was nearly noticed by a German who was passing by a column on armored cars. Alexei began to go more cautiously.

Chapters 8-9

To somehow feed, Alexei chewed bark, brewed his own tea from leaves of cranberries, extracted pine cones from cones.

On the seventh day of the trip, Meresiev went to the place of the slaughter-the Germans were defeated. The sounds of an artillery duel were heard very close.

Chapters 10-14

In the evening, Alexei discovered that the lighter had run out of petrol. During the night he froze and could not move any more while walking. The man, without losing his willpower, crawled forward on his hands. On the way he found a hedgehog, which he ate raw.

Alexei moved forward with the last of his strength. Suddenly he heard children’s voices speaking Russian. Meresy burst into tears with excitement. Alexei on the sled was taken to the dug-out.

Chapters 15-16

Meresiev was among the people who fled from their native village and now lived in the forest. Alexei was settled by his grandfather Mihailo. Meresjeva tried to take care of the whole village.

Chapters 17-19

Grandfather Mihailo, seeing that Meresyev was getting worse, brought to him the squadron commander, in which Alexei served. Counting the days, the commander realized that Meresye had been in the forest for eighteen days.

At the home airport, where everyone was happy Alexei, he was waiting for a medical aircraft. Meresyev was sent to the best Moscow hospital.

Part two
Chapter 1

Before the war, the clinic that housed Meresjeva was an institute. While doing the detour, the chief of the clinic, Professor Vasily Vasilyevich, came across bunks standing by the stairwell. They explained to him that they are pilots who were brought at night – one has a fracture of the hip and arms, another has a gangrene of the foot.

Vasily Vasilyevich ordered to place them in the “Colonel” chamber.

Chapter 2

There were three other people in the ward with Meresyev. Completely bandaged lieutenant tank troops Grigory Gvozdev, the famous sniper Stepan Ivanovich and the pilot Kukushkin. Gvozdev for the second month was “on the verge of life and death,” almost without talking to anyone – during one of the battles, he was burnt in a tank.

Vasily Vasilyevich increasingly spoke with Alexei about amputation. Meresjev, strongly experiencing, did not write about what happened to him neither to his mother, nor to his bride Olga.

Chapters 3-4

A week later the regimental commissioner Semyon Vorobyov was placed in the ward. Vorobiev, who all began to call the “Commissioner”, was able to “each pick up his own special key.” “With the arrival of the Commissioner in the ward something similar happened to what happened in the mornings when the nurse opened the window and into the dull hospital silence, along with the merry noise of the streets, the fresh and moist air of the early Moscow spring burst.”

Chapters 5-6

Alexei could not be helped by anything other than an operation. Meresiev amputated his legs to the middle of the roe. After the operation, the man withdrew into himself, seriously worried that now he could never fly on an airplane. Alexei could not write to his mother and Olga about the operation.

Chapter 7

Spring came. Gvozdev gradually began to talk with other men in the ward, “did come to life.”

Everyone, except Gvozdev, received letters. With the light hand of the Commissioner and the nurse Claudia Mikhailovna, Gregory received letters from the girls from the medical institute. One of them – Anyuta, even sent her photo. Soon correspondence with Gvozdev began with her.

Chapter 8

The commissioner, wishing to return Meresyev’s will to life, found for him an article about a pilot who, without a single foot, continued to fly the plane. After reading, Alexei noticed that it was easier for that pilot, but the commissar answered him that “you are a Soviet man!”. That night, Meresya could not fall asleep for a long time, thinking that he could fly again.

The commissar grew worse, but despite this, the man found the strength to joke and calm the nurse. Claudia Mikhailovna, spending more and more time at the bed of Vorobyov, fell in love with him.

Chapter 9

The first to leave was Stepan Ivanovich.

Falling in love with Anya, Gvozdev, whose whole face was in scars, was afraid that the girl would not want to communicate with him when she saw him personally.

Chapter 10

Meresiev did everything to become a full-fledged pilot again. Alexei invented a special set of exercises for himself, which he regularly performed. Despite the fact that the gymnastics caused severe pain, the man tried to increase the load every time.

More and more often letters from Olga came to Meresyev. Previously, they tried not to talk about their feelings, now the girl first, without hesitation, wrote about her love longing. Alexey, hiding his fortune, answered Olga briefly and dryly.

Chapter 11

“The commissar died on the first of May.” It happened “somehow unnoticeably” for everyone – under the official speech on the radio.

In the evening, a pilot-fighter, Major Pavel Ivanovich Struchkov, was accommodated in their ward. The man’s knee cups were damaged. He was sociable and cheerful, very fond of women.

“The next day the Commissar was buried.” The funeral music played, and soldiers saw off Vorobyov’s last journey. When asked by Struchkov about whom they are buried, Kukushkin replied: “A real person is buried… Bolshevik is buried.” “And very much wanted Alexei to become a real man, the same as the one who was now taken to the last path.”

Chapter 12

Struchkov suggested that Alekseev argue that he would seduce Klavdia Mikhailovna. Everyone in the ward was outraged and were about to intercede for the woman, but Klavdia Mikhailovna herself refused Pavel.

Soon Konstantin Kukushkin was discharged.

Chapter 13

In one of the early summer days Meresyev was brought prostheses, shod in brand-new shoes. The doctors explained to Alexei that now he would have to learn to walk like a baby. With his usual persistence, Meresiev, leaning on his crutches, began to move along the corridor.

Gvozdev and Anyuta fell in love. In letters, they confessed to each other in love, but Grigory was very nervous, because the girl did not see his face in the scars.

Chapter 14

In the middle of June Gvozdev was discharged from the hospital. Soon, Meresyev received a letter from Grigory. Gvozdev said that although Anyuta at the meeting and did not show his mind, the girl was noticeably how scared her appearance Grigory. Not wanting to torment her, Gvozdev himself left.

After reading a friend’s letter, Alexei wrote to Olga that it is not known how long the war will last, so she should quickly forget about him. In secret, Meresiev hoped that this would not frighten off true love.

Vasily Vasilyevich found Alexei behind the way he tried to learn how to walk without crutches. In the evening he handed over for his merry-eve his own ebony cane.

Chapter 15

Struchkov fell in love with Claudia Mikhailovna. On the recognition of Paul, the woman replied that she did not love him and could never love.

Merkeeva called Anyuta, who was very worried about Gvozdev’s sudden disappearance. Alexey was glad – now the friend is formed.

Part Three
Chapter 1

In the summer of 1942 Alexei was discharged from the hospital and sent to be treated in the sanatorium of the Air Force near Moscow. Before leaving, Meresiev decided to take a walk around Moscow. Unexpectedly, he met Anuta. The girl offered to visit her. Learning that Grigory decided to grow a beard to like her more, Anyuta called Gvozdev “an eccentric.”

Chapter 2

In the chancellory of the sanatorium, they were initially surprised that they had been sent “Meresjeva without legs,” but then they understood that Alexei had prostheses. Meresjev was placed in the same room as Struchkov.

Chapter 3

Alexei asked Nurse Zinochka, an employee of the office, to teach him how to dance. The girl agreed. The dance was given to Meresyev, but he did not show to anyone how painful it was to him “this complex, differently characterized trampling.”

Chapter 4

Over time, dance exercises began to give results – Alexei less “felt the stiffening effect of prostheses.”

For the first time in a long time, a letter came from Olya. The girl wrote that among the volunteers digging trenches. Olga was outraged by his previous letter – she was ready to accept it by anyone: “You write that something can happen to you in the war.” And if some misfortune had happened to me “on the trenches” or would have crippled me, would it have been you gave up on me? “After that, Alexei began to write to her every day.

Chapter 5

The commission of the Air Force recruitment department arrived in the sanatorium. The doctor, learning that Meresiev had legs amputated, did not want to send him to the air force. However, when he saw Alexei dancing in the evening, he wrote out the conclusion that, with proper training, Meresiev would be able to fly.

Chapter 6

In the flight part, there was no Mirovolsky, to which Alexei sent a military doctor. Meresyev had to file a report in the general order. Not taking care of the clothing and food certificate, Alexei stops at Anyuta.

Meresiev tried to advance several months through the military administration, but he was denied everywhere.

Chapter 7

After receiving a referral to the commission in the formation department, Alexei finally met with the necessary doctor Mirovolsky. He sent Meresiev to “TAP for testing.” Alexei, who very much wanted to fly again, managed to break through to the high command. Meresyev was sent to a training school.

Chapter 8

Meresyev feared that having discovered the lack of legs, he would be expelled from the training school. However, before the Battle of Stalingrad, the school had too much work, so the colonel did not check Alexei’s documents – he was outraged only by the fact that Meresyev walked with a “dude’s” cane.

Instructor Alexei appointed Lieutenant Naumov. To make it convenient to fly the plane, Meresjev fastened the dentures with leather clamps to the pedal control. Learning that Alex has no legs, Naumov decided to deal with him on a special program.

Chapter 9

Meresjev trained for more than five months. Finally, the instructor assigned him tests. Realizing that now his fate is being decided, Alexei carried out the most complex figures in the air. Admired by the flight of Meresyev, the colonel offered to remain an instructor at the school, but Alex refused.

Noticing that Meresyev again walks with a cane, the colonel was outraged and even wanted to break it. However, having learned that Alexei without legs, appreciated the greatness of the hero’s feat and gave him the highest recommendations.

Chapter 10-11

“The rest of the winter and early spring was spent by Meresyev in the school of retraining.” At first, Alexei did not feel coherence in the management of the fighter. This became a serious blow for the pilot. Wishing to cheer Meresyev, the school’s deputy, Lieutenant-Colonel Kapustin, came to see him. Since Alexey was the only person in the world who flies without legs, the colonel gave him the opportunity to train separately. In one of the March days, Alexei finally felt that the plane completely obeyed him.

Part Four
Chapters 1-2

Summer of 1943. Meresiev arrived in the regiment for military service. Judging by the state of the roads, Alexei realized that active military action was taking place at the front.

Chapters 3-4

“The battle on the Kursk Bulge flared up.” Before the first flight, Meresiev was somewhat worried, “but it was not the fear of death.” During the battle, “on one of the sections of the Kursk arc, after a powerful two-hour artillery preparation, the army broke through the German defense and with all its might entered the breakthrough, clearing the way for the Soviet troops that had taken the offensive.”

After the battle, Alexei, lying on the moss, read a new letter from Olga, in which the girl sent her photo in a tunic with the Order of the Red Star on her chest. She was already the commander of the engineer platoon, who was engaged in the restoration of Stalingrad.

Chapters 5-6

During one of the subsequent battles, Meresiev shot down three Focke-Wulf 190s, which were operated by German aces from the famous Richthofen division, saved his younger friend and barely made it to the aerodrome on the remains of fuel. After the battle, Alexei was appointed squadron commander.

Finally, Alexei decided to write to Olga about everything that happened to him in the last 18 months.


“On days when the Orel battle was nearing its triumphant end,” the correspondent of the Pravda newspaper Polevoy met Maresyev, whom he was recommended as “the best pilot of the regiment.” Alexey personally told the author his story.

“I did not have much time to write down, much was lost in my memory in four years.” Alexey Maresyev, then, in his modesty, kept silence about it, he had to think out and add. “

After the story was published, Maresiev heard the book read on the radio and himself called Polevoy. A few hours later, Major Alexei Maresiev, the guard, came to visit the author. “Four military years almost did not change it.” Maresiev participated in the campaign of 1943-1945, received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. After the war, Alexei married Olga, they had a son, Victor.

“So life itself continued this story I wrote about Alexei Maresiev – a real Soviet man.”


The book by Boris Polevoy “The Story of a Real Man” is a work about true patriotism, humanism and human staunchness. The book was translated into many languages, it was published more than one hundred and fifty times around the world. In 1948, “The Story of a Real Man” was screened by director A. Stolper. In 1947 – 1948, S. Prokofiev wrote from the book Polevoy opera in three acts.

We recommend not to be limited to a short retelling of “The Tale of a Real Man”, having read the brilliant work completely.

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Summary “A Tale of a Real Man”