Summary “Childhood”

The story “Childhood” is the first work of Leo Tolstoy. First published in 1852.

Genre: autobiographical novel. The story is conducted on behalf of Nicholas Irtenev, an adult who recalls individual events and the deep experiences of his childhood.

The main idea – the basis of character is laid down in childhood, a person strives for perfection. To get acquainted with the heroes of the story and the main events, it is worth reading the summary of Tolstoy’s “Childhood” by chapters.

Main characters

Nikolenka Irteniev is a boy from a noble family. He tries to understand his feelings, to find an explanation for the actions of people. Thinly sensitive nature.

Other characters

Family Nicholas – mother, father, brother Volodya, sister Lyubochka, grandmother.

Natalia Savishna is a housekeeper, unselfishly and affectionately attached to her mother and to her entire family.

Karl Ivanovich is a

home teacher. Kind and loving family Irtenev people.

Mimi is the governess of the Irtenevs.

Grisha, foolish. Lived in the Irtenevs’ house.

Sonechka Walakhina – the first love Nicholas.

Ilenka Grap is an object of ridicule of peers.

Chapter 1. Teacher Karl Ivanych

A few days after his tenth birthday, Nikolenka Irteniev, on whose behalf the narrative is being conducted, was awakened early in the morning by his mentor, Karl Ivanych. After dressing and washing, the hero and his brother Volodya accompanied by Karl Ivanych go “to say hello to my mother.”

Chapter 2. Maman

Remembering his mother, Irtenev presents her bright image, a smile and wonderful childhood events related to her.

Chapters 3-4. Dad. Classes

When they came to greet their father, the children heard that he decided to take them with him to Moscow – to study.

Nicholas lived through the separation from all those close to him, who was dear to him.

Chapters 5-6. Holy fool. Preparations for hunting

In the house to Irtenev

the foolish Grisha came to dinner, and the head of the family was dissatisfied with his stay in the house. On the eve of the departure, the children asked their father to take them for the forthcoming hunt.

After dinner, the whole family goes hunting.

Chapter 7. Hunting

Father directs Nicholas to one of the meadows to guard the hare. The hounds drive the rabbit out to the boy, but the one in the passion misses the beast and worries about it.

Chapter 8-9. Games. Something like the first love

The hunt was over, the whole company was resting in the shade. Children – Nikolenka, Volodya, Lyubochka and daughter Mimi Katenka – went to play in Robinson. Nicholas with tenderness watched every movement of Katenka, with a feeling that was like the first love.

Chapter 10. What kind of person was my father?

Talking about his father, Irtenev, who has matured, speaks of him as a man who had “the elusive character of chivalry, enterprise, self-confidence, courtesy and revelry.”

Chapters 11-12. Classes in the study and living room. Grisha

In the evening the children painted at home, the mother played the piano. Grisha went out to supper. The children wanted to see the chains that he wore on his feet, and made his way to his room. Hiding, they listened to the prayers of the returning wanderer, and their sincerity struck Nicholas.

Chapter 13. Natalia Savishna

He recalls the story of the devoted family to the housekeeper, Natalia Savishna, whose whole life was “love and sacrifice”.

Chapter 14-15. Parting. Childhood

The morning after the hunt, the Irtenev family and all the servants gathered in the living room to say goodbye. Nikolenka was “sad, sick and scared” to part with her mother.

Remembering the day, the hero reflects on childhood. It was at the time of childhood that “innocent gaiety and the boundless need of love are the only impulses in life.”

Chapter 16. Poems

A month after moving to Moscow, the Irtenev brothers, who lived with their father in the house of his grandmother, congratulated her on the birthday of the name-day. Nikolenka wrote for her birthday her first poems, which she gladly read in public

Chapter 17-18. Princess Kornakova. Prince Ivan Ivanych

The guests began to come to the house. Princess Kornakova arrived. Nicholas, having learned that she was punishing children with rods, was deeply shocked.

Grandmother came to congratulate her old friend Prince Ivan Ivanovich. Hearing their conversation, Nicholas was deeply excited: my grandmother said that his father does not appreciate and does not understand his wife.

Chapter 19. Ivins

The brothers of Ivina, Irteniev’s relatives, and Ilenka Grapp, the son of a poor foreigner, a familiar grandmother, arrived on the name day. Nicholas loved Sergei Ivin very much, he wanted to be like him in everything. During the general games, Sergei greatly offended and humiliated the weak and quiet Ilya, and this left a deep trace in Nikolenko’s soul.

Chapters 20-21. The guests are gathering. Before the mazurka

In the evening, many guests gathered at the ball, among which Nikolenka saw the “wonderful girl” Sonechka Walakhina. The main character fell in love with her and was happy, dancing with her and having fun. “I myself could not recognize myself: where did my boldness, confidence and even boldness come from,” he recalls.

Chapters 22-23. Mazurka. After the mazurka

Nicholas dances a mazurka with a girl – the princess, stumbles and stops. The guests look at him, and he becomes very ashamed.

After supper, Nikolenka again dances with Sonya. She proposes to refer to each other as “you”, as close friends.

Chapter 24. In bed

Remembering the ball and thinking about Sonya, Nikolenka can not fall asleep. He confesses to Volodya that he is in love with Sonya.

Chapter 25-26. Letter. What awaited us in the village

Once – almost six months after the grandmother’s birthday – my father went to the children during the lessons with the news that they were going to the village, home. The reason for the departure was a letter from her mother – she was seriously ill. The children found the mother unconscious, and on the same day she died.

Chapter 27. Woe

On the day of the funeral, Nikolenka bids farewell to her mother. Looking at the face, still beautiful and tender, the boy realized the “bitter truth” of the death of a loved one, and his soul was filled with despair.

Chapter 28. Recent sad memories

“Happy time of childhood” ended for Nicholas. Three days passed and everyone moved to Moscow. In the deserted house there was only Natalia Savishna, but soon she also, having become ill, dies. Irtenev, who has matured, comes to the village, always visits the graves of his mother and Natalia Savishna.


In contact with the world, Nikolenka Irtenev grows up, getting to know different aspects of life. Analyzing his feelings and experiences, remembering those who love him, the hero discovers for himself the path to knowledge and self-perfection. A brief retelling of Tolstoy’s Childhood, and then reading the full text of the story will enable the reader not only to get acquainted with the story and characters, but also to understand the inner world of the heroes of the work.

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Summary “Childhood”