Bunin’s story “Clean Monday” was written in 1944 and entered the collection of the author devoted to the theme of love “Dark alleys”. The work belongs to the literary direction of neo-realism. The leading artistic method of the story is the antithesis – the author contrasts the images of the hero and heroine, life and spirituality, the city and the monastery, etc., bringing the reader to the central problem of the work – the problem of the Russian national character, revealed through the image of the main character.
The hero-narrator is a young man in love who came from the Penza province. Was outwardly “indecently beautiful,” with a “southern”, lively, disposing character. From his person is
The heroine is the lover of the narrator, a girl with a bright appearance – a swarthy-amber face, black thick hair and black, like velvet charcoal, eyes. One takes an apartment in Moscow, at the end of the work goes to the monastery.
Every winter evening the narrator traveled “from the Red Gate to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior”, opposite of which lived his lover. Every day he drove her to restaurants, theaters, concerts. The narrator’s beloved studied at historical courses, although she rarely visited them. Her father is a widower, a man of “a noble merchant family, he lived alone in Tver”, and the girl herself rented a corner apartment on the fifth floor for the sake of a picturesque view of Moscow. There were two rooms in her apartment. In the first there was a Turkish sofa and an expensive piano, on which the heroine learned the beginning of the “Moonlight Sonata”.
The hero constantly gave his beloved flowers, books, chocolate. The girl accepted them carelessly and absently, lying on the couch, but always thanked. “It seemed that she did not need anything: no flowers, no books, no dinners, no theaters, no suppers outside the city,” although she had her own opinion, she liked to eat deliciously. “Her apparent weakness was only good clothes, velvet, silk, expensive fur…”.
They were a bright couple. The young man looked like an Italian, the girl had “some kind of Indian, Persian” beauty. As far as the hero was “inclined to talkativeness, to simplehearted gaiety,” so heroine is silent, she read a lot.
They met in December at a lecture by Andrei Bely, who sang his lecture, running on stage. The narrator was so “turned and laughed” that the girl, by chance, who sat next to him, herself was amused.
Sometimes, not seeing the reciprocity, the young man rebuked the beloved in indifference. The girl answered that in addition to her father and his, she had no one: “you are my first and last.” She did not resist his caresses, but at the last moment removed, went to another room and returned already dressed for evening walks. Somehow the hero spoke to her about marriage. The girl answered that she was not fit to marry. The hero understood that he could only hope, although the existing order of things was sometimes unbearable for him.
January, February, the beginning and the end of Maslenitsa were a happy period for the hero – he drove the beloved to restaurants, theaters, admiring his companion. In Forgiven Sunday, on the initiative of the heroine, they go to the Novodevichy Convent. The girl says that she was at the Rogozhsky cemetery yesterday, where the Archbishop was buried, enthusiastically recalls what was happening. The young man was surprised how she knew so much about the church and church dignity, to which the heroine replied that in the mornings, when he “does not drag her around restaurants,” she goes to the Kremlin’s cathedrals.
Walking, they went to the cemetery of the Novodevichy Convent. At some point, the heroine notices the adoring look of the young man and, turning around, with silent perplexity says: “The truth is, how you love me.” In the evening “on the pancakes” in the tavern near Yegorov, the girl “with a quiet light in her eyes” tells about monasteries and annals, fleetingly mentioning that she might herself go “to some of the most deaf, Vologda, Vyatka” monasteries. Her words bothered the hero.
The next day, the heroine asks to take her to the “cabbage” of the Art Theater. Arriving to her in the evening, the hero was surprised that the girl in the hallway was unusually bright, “and the piano sounded the beginning of the” Moonlight Sonata “- all rising, sounding farther, the more tiring, more appealing, in somnambulistically blissful sadness.” When he slammed the door, the piano stopped, and the girl came out to him in a black velvet dress.
On the “cabbage” the heroine smoked a lot, constantly drank champagne, then danced the polka with one of the actors. They returned home at three o’clock in the morning. To the surprise of the young man, the girl said to release the coachman, and they together went up to her apartment. At dawn, awakening the youth, the girl informs that she is leaving for Tver in the evening and, crying, asks to leave her alone.
Two weeks later, the hero received a letter: “I will not return to Moscow, I’ll go on obedience, then maybe I’ll decide to tonsure… May God give me strength not to answer me – it’s useless to continue and increase our suffering…”. The young man fulfilled her request. Difficultly experiencing what happened, he disappeared along the “most dirty taverns”, but then “indifferently, hopelessly” began to “gradually recover.”
Almost two years from that clean Monday, “in the fourteenth year, the New Year” hero visits the Archangel Cathedral, where he stands for a long time without praying. Driving through their places, the young man could not hold back his tears. Stopping at the gates of the Marfo-Mariinsky monastery, the hero heard the singing of the maiden choir. Having put a ruble in the janitor, the young man walks inside the courtyard and becomes a witness of the procession: the princess came out of the church, followed by a “white string of singers, with candles on faces, nuns or sisters.” One of the people suddenly raised her head and looked with dark eyes at the darkness, as if sensing the presence of a hero there. He “turned and quietly left the gate.”
Bunin, reflecting on his story, wrote: “I thank God that he gave me the opportunity to write” Net Monday. “Indeed, the story strikes me with the depth of subjects, making me think about the most important issues in our life: the choice between” worldly “, human happiness and spirituality, the desire for God, self-knowledge. The main character makes a choice in favor of the latter, explaining his choice with the words of the character of Tolstoy – Platon Karataev: “Our happiness, my friend, like water in raving: pulling – puffed up and pulling – nothing.”