Arkady Makarovich Dolgoruky, who is also a teenager, recounts in his notes about himself and recent events, in which he was one of the main participants. He is twenty years old, he just graduated from high school in Moscow, but he decided to postpone his admission to the university, so as not to be distracted from the realization of the cherished idea, which he had almost from the sixth grade.
His idea is to become a Rothschild, that is, to accumulate a lot of money, and, together with money, to gain power and solitude. With people, Arkady, according to his confession, is difficult, he is lost, he seems to be laughed at, he starts asserting himself and becomes too expansive. The idea did not accidentally crept into his soul. Arkady is the by-progeny of the aristocratic nobleman Andrey
Before high school, he was brought up in the boarding house of the Frenchman Tushar, where he suffered many humiliations because of his illegitimacy. All this made him particularly sensitive and vulnerable. Once, when he came to his stepbrother, the lawful son of Versilov, to receive money sent by his father, he was not received, although his brother was at home, the money was transferred through the lackey, which caused a storm of indignation in Arcadia. His pride is constantly on his guard and is easily wounded, but, kind and enthusiastic by nature, with a friendly and benevolent attitude towards him, he quickly passes from love and adoration with resentment and dislike.
In St. Petersburg, he comes at the invitation of his father to enter the service. In addition, his mother lives there, the meek and devout Sofia Andreevna, and Sister Lisa, and most importantly, his father – Andrei Petrovich Versilov, who belongs to the highest Russian cultural type of “universal pain for all.” Versilov professes the idea of spiritual nobility, the highest aristocracy of the spirit, considers the highest Russian cultural thought “all-reconciliation of ideas” and “world citizenship”.
In the heart of a Teenager, it takes a huge place. Brought up from strangers, Arkady only once saw his father, and he made an indelible impression on him. “Every dream of mine, from the very childhood, responded to it: it was about him, it was reduced to it in the final result. I do not know whether I hated or loved it, but it filled all my future, all my calculations for life.” He thinks a lot about him, trying to understand what kind of person he is, he collects rumors and opinions about him from different people. Versilov for him an ideal: beauty, intelligence, depth, aristocracy… And especially – the nobility, which is nevertheless constantly put Arkady in doubt.
In St. Petersburg Arkady comes wary-aggressive towards Versilov. He wants to crush the slander against him, crush his enemies, but at the same time he suspects him of low and dishonorable deeds. He wants to know the whole truth about him. He heard about his piety and fascination with Catholicism, something is known about his offer to Lydia Akhmakova, as well as about the slap of Prince Sergei Sokolsky, to which Versilov did not answer. After some scandalous action Versilov expelled from high society, but everything is covered in fog and mystery.
Arcadia is defined as a secretary to the former friend of Versilov, the old prince Nikolai Ivanovich Sokolsky, who is attached to a clever and impetuous youth. However, he soon renounces his place out of pride, especially since the daughter of Prince Katerina Nikolaevna Akhmakova, who is in a long hostile relationship with Versilov, accuses Arkady of espionage.
By chance, in the hands of Arcadia, there are two important letters: from one it follows that Versilov’s victory over the inheritance process with the princes of the Sokolsky can not be reconsidered in his favor. The second, written by Katerina Nikolaevna, speaks of the dementia of her father, the old prince of Sokolsky, and the need to take him into custody. The letter is capable of provoking the wrath of the old prince with severe consequences for the daughter, namely, the loss of inheritance. This “document,” around which the main intrigue is twisted, is sewn from Arkady in a lining of a frock coat, although everyone, including Katerina Nikolaevna, says that the letter was burned by his friend Kraft (he gave it to Arkady), who was soon shot.
The first explanation with Versilov leads to a temporary reconciliation, although Arkady’s attitude to his father remains wary. He acts as a tempter demon, giving Versilov a letter about the inheritance, believing that he will conceal him, and in advance justify it. In addition, in order to protect the honor of his father, he decides to challenge the very same prince Sergei Sokolsky, who once gave Versilov a slap in the face.
Arkady goes to the acquaintance of Vasin, to ask to be a second, and there meets his stepfather, a swindler Stebelkov, from whom he learns of Versilov’s baby from Lydia Akhmakova. Immediately in the next room a scandal is played out, also connected in some mysterious way with Versilov. Soon Arkady will find the continuation of this scandal in his mother’s apartment, where accidentally comes along with a young girl Olya, who angrily charges Versilov with meanness and hurls the money given to them, and later ends with herself. In the soul of the Teenager Troubles. Versilov appears as a secret corrupter. After all, Arkady himself is the product of the Versilovskaya sinful passion for another’s wife, which he takes away from his legal husband. Where is honor? Where is the debt? Where is the nobility? ..
Arkady finally expresses to his father all that has accumulated in the soul during the years of humiliation, suffering and reflection, and announces his break with Versilov, then to proudly retire to his corner and there to hide. He does not abandon the idea of a duel with Prince Sergei Sokolsky and challenges him, but he expresses his deep remorse and no less profound respect for Versilov himself. They part with big friends. Immediately it becomes known that Versilov refused an inheritance in favor of the princes. It turns out that he was not guilty of committing suicide in Oli: money was given to her completely unselfishly, as an aid, but she, already several times being the object of infamous encroachments, understood his deed wrongly.
Two months pass, Arkady dressed up as a dandy and leads the most secular way of life, taking money from Prince Sergei Sokolsky at the expense of those who seem to rely on Versilov. His main hobby is playing roulette. He often plays, but it does not stop him. Versilov from time to time goes to Arkady chat. Between the father and son the most intimate and trusting relations are established. Friendly relations are established between Arkady and Katerina Nikolaevna Akhmakova.
Meanwhile, it becomes known that the legal daughter of Versilov, Arkady’s half sister Anna Andreevna, intends to marry the old Prince Sokolsky and is extremely concerned about the issue of inheritance. For her, the document defaming Prince Ahmakov’s daughter is important, and she is extremely interested in him.
One day Katerina Nikolaevna appoints Arkady a meeting with his aunt Tatyana Pavlovna Prutkova. He flies winged and, finding her alone, is inspired even more, dreaming that he has a love date. Yes, he suspected her of treachery, of wanting to know about the document, but now, fascinated by her simple-heartedness and cordiality, admiringly composes the hymn to her beauty and chastity. She slightly removes the over-heated young man, although it does not at all seek to extinguish the fire that has flared in him.
In a semi-arched state, Arkady plays roulette and wins a lot of money. During a hysterical explanation with Prince Seryozha, who offended Arkady for turning away from him in the gambling hall, he learns that Sister Lisa is pregnant from the prince. Dumbfounded, Arkady gives him everything he has won. On a meeting with Ahmakova, Arkady tells Versilov in all his details, and he sends her an angry, insulting letter. Arkady, learning about the letter, yearning to explain himself to Katerina Nikolaevna, but she avoids it. Arkady again plays roulette and again wins, but he is unfairly accused of stealing other people’s money and pushed out of the gambling hall.
Under the impression of experienced humiliation, he falls asleep in the cold, he dreams of a boarding house where he was offended by both Tushar and his friend Lambert, he wakes up from someone’s blows and sees… Lambert. The old friend leads him to his room, drinks wine, and Arkady, in a fit of frankness, tells him about the fatal document. From this moment the scoundrel Lambert begins to weave his vile intrigues, trying to use Arcadia.
In turn, Prince Sergei Sokolsky, an affectionate but weak-willed person, is somehow involved in a fake of shares, which is engaged in the swindler Stebelkov, also weaving his networks around the hero. Not devoid of conscience and honor, the prince goes to the police and confesses everything. Arrested, however, he commits another meanness – from jealousy he reports to Vasin, to whom belongs a certain seditious manuscript given to him by Liza and from it already reached Sokolsky. As a result, Vasin was arrested.
On the same days, seriously ill Arkady gets acquainted with his lawful father Makar Ivanovich Dolgoruky, a handsome and devout elder, wandering for the construction of the temple, and now due to illness stopped by his mother Arkady. During their conversations, a wise old man sheds light into his soul.
The arrival of the old prince of Sokolsky with Anna Andreevna is supposed, and the prince intends to place him in the same apartment where Arkady lives, in the hope that he will not stand up when he sees the prince in a state of fear and depression and will show him Akhmakova’s letter. Meanwhile Makar Ivanovich dies, as a result of which Versilov gets the opportunity to enter into a legal marriage with the mother of Arkady. But in it again burst out a frenzied passion for Akhmakova, leading him to insanity. In front of the whole family, he splits the icon, which is dear to Sofya Andreyevna, bequeathed to him by Makarov Ivanovich, and leaves. Arkady searches for him and overhears Versilov’s explanation of Ahmakova. He is shocked by his father’s passion, in which love and hatred are struggling. Akhmakova admits that she once loved him, but now she certainly does not like him, and she marries Baron Bioringa because,
Compassion for his father and wishing to save him, hating and at the same time jealous of Akhmakov, entangled in his own feelings, Arkady runs to Lambert and discusses with him actions against Ahmakova – in order to disgrace her. Lambert soldered the Teenager and at night with the help of his mistress Alphonsinsky steals the document, sewing instead of it an empty piece of paper.
The next day, the old prince Sokolsky comes. Anna Andreevna tries in every possible way to influence her brother, but Arkady, repentant after a desperate frankness with Lambert, categorically refuses to act against Ahmakova. Meanwhile, Bioring bursts into the apartment and takes the prince away by force. Defending now the honor of Anna Andreevna, Arkady tries to fight, but to no avail. He is taken to the station.
Soon they let him go, and he learns that Lambert and Versilov lured Katerina Nikolayevna to Aunt Tatyana Pavlovna’s aunt. He hurries there and ripens at the most critical moments: Lambert, threatening with a document, and then with a revolver, extorts money from Ahmakova. At this moment, Versilov hides out, hides the revolver and deafens Lambert. Katerina Nikolayevna faints in horror. Versilov picks her up in her arms and wears it in her arms, and then puts her victim on the bed and, suddenly remembering about the revolver, wants to shoot first at her, and then into herself. During the struggle with Arkady and coming to his aid to help Trishatov he tries to commit suicide, but does not fall into the heart, but in the shoulder.
After the experienced crisis, Versilov remains with Sofya Andreevna, Akhmakova breaks with Bioring, and the Teenager, who never abandoned his idea, now, it is true, “already in a completely different form”, is persuaded to enter the university. These notes, according to the hero, served as his re-education – “it is the process of remembering and writing down.”