Summary “Biryuk”

Story “Biryuk” by IS Turgenev was written in 1847 and entered the cycle of the writer’s works about the life, traditions and way of life of the Russian people “Notes of a Hunter”. The story refers to the literary realism direction. In “Biryuk” the author described his memories of the life of peasants in Orel province.

Main characters

Biryuk is a forester, a stern man.

The narrator is a gentleman, his story is narrated in his story.

Other characters

A peasant is a poor man who cut trees in the forest and was caught by Biryuk.

Ulita is the twelve-year-old daughter of Biryuk.


The narrator went alone in the evening with a hunt, on the treadmills. Up to his house there were about eight versts, but in the woods he was suddenly caught by a violent thunderstorm. The narrator decides to wait out the bad weather under a broad bush, and soon sees a tall figure at the shine of the lightning

– as it turned out, it was the forester here. He led the narrator to his house – “a small hut in the middle of a vast courtyard surrounded by a fence.” The doors were opened to them by a “girl of about twelve, in a shirt, belted by a shroud” – the daughter of the forester Ulita. The forester’s hut “consisted of one room”, a torn sheepskin hat hung on the wall, a ray of light burned on the table, and “in the very middle” of the house hung a cradle.

The forester himself was “tall, broad-shouldered and built to glory,” with a black curly beard, broad frowning eyebrows and brown eyes. His name was Foma, nicknamed Biryuk. The narrator was surprised by the acquaintance with the forester, since he heard from acquaintances that his “all the surrounding peasants were afraid of being like a fire.” He regularly guarded the forest good, not allowing to take out of the forest even a bundle of brushwood. It was impossible to bribe Biryuk.

Foma said that his wife had fled with a passer-by, and left a forester with one of

the two children. There was nothing for the visitor to offer to Biryuk-there was only bread in the house.

When the rain stopped, Biryuk said he was conducting a storyteller. Coming out of the house, Thomas heard a distant knock of an ax. The forester was afraid that the thief would miss, so the narrator agreed to walk to the place where the wood was cut, although he did not hear anything. At the end of the road Biryuk asked to wait, and he went on. Through the noise of the wind, the narrator heard Foma’s cry and the sounds of the struggle. The narrator rushed there and saw the fallen tree of Biryuk, who tied the muzhik with a sash.

The narrator asked to release the thief, promising to pay for the tree, but Biryuk, without answering, led the peasant into his hut. It started to rain again, and they had to sit out the bad weather. The narrator decided “to free the poor man by all means” – in the light of the lantern he could see “his drenched, wrinkled face, hanging yellow eyebrows, restless eyes, thin members.”

The man began to ask Biryuk to release him. Forester sullenly objected that in their settlement all the “thief on the thief” and, not paying attention to the plaintive pleas of the thief, ordered to sit quietly. Suddenly, the peasant straightened up, blushed, and began to scold Thomas, calling him “an Asian, a bloodsucker, a beast, a murderer.” Biryuk grabbed the man by the shoulder. The narrator already wanted to protect the poor man, but Thomas, to his amazement, “at one turn pulled the girdle from the man’s elbows, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, slapped his hat over his eyes, dissolved the door and pushed him out”, screaming the trail to get to the devil.

The narrator understands that Biryuk is actually a “nice fellow”. Half an hour later they said goodbye at the edge of the forest.


In the story “Biryuk” Turgenev portrayed an ambiguous character – forester Foma Kuzmich, whose identity is fully revealed only towards the end of the work. It is with this hero that the main conflict of the story is connected – the conflict between the public debt and humanity, which occurs inside the Biryuk himself. Despite the external severity and principledness of Thomas Kuzmich, who carefully protects the forest entrusted to him, in his heart he is a kind, sympathetic person – “a glorious fellow”.

A brief retelling of “Biryuk” will be useful for acquaintance with the plot of the story, for a better understanding of the work we advise reading it completely.

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Summary “Biryuk”