Nicholas Irtenev has already turned 15 years old. He disdains to go to university, stubbornly prepares for exams, and at the same time tries to achieve spiritual perfection – specially for this he starts a notebook “Rules of life.” On Holy Week, a monk comes to them in the house, to whom Nikolai confesses. But the feeling of purification and joy did not last long – at night he suddenly remembered another sin, which he did not mention during the confession. Because of this, he can not sleep and, as soon as early morning comes, takes a cab and goes to the monastery for confession. Only after this confession he feels completely purified.
With brilliance passing exams to the university, Nikolai becomes a student. This joyful event becomes a real occasion for the holiday. Nikolai feels completely grown up, goes to the Kuznetsk bridge, and among other things, buys tobacco and a pipe, and when he returns home, he tries to smoke. It’s bad for him, and then his friend Dmitri Nekhlyudov, who came to him, talks about how stupid he behaves.
Together with his brother Volodya, Dubkov and Nekhludoff, Nikolai goes to the restaurant to celebrate his entry into the university. He sees how uninhibitedly his brother and Dubkov behave, and how they differ from the serious and silent Nekhlyudov. But he is drawn to what he considers an adult life, and so Nicholas tries to imitate his brother. He drinks champagne and takes a cigarette, lighting it from a
The next day of Nicholas is devoted to visits. But he is bored with the company of people he knows, and only in an interview with Nekhlyudov he feels at ease and at ease. His peace and confidence are very popular with him, and he admits to Dmitry that he can not understand his feelings and thoughts about a new “adult” life. After a day of visits, Nikolai leaves for the village, where he feels his unity with nature and rejoices in new sensations, without ceasing to reflect on his future life.
Nicholas’s father is getting married. But neither Nikolai nor Volodya feel any warm feelings for his new wife, and even the father himself soon after the wedding understands that he does not like her. Student life brings Nicholas not only new impressions, but also disappointments – he sees that in order to be a secular person, one must pretend a lot, observing a lot of conventions, which his soul does not accept. He begins to rush between the judicious Nekhlyudov and his new friends, for whom only one principle is important: life should bring pleasure. And this principle draws him more and more, and the result is that he can not pass the first exam at the university. He closes in his room and even Nekhlyudov’s sympathy and consolations seem to him pretended. Being in this state, he again takes in his hands the notebook “Rules of life” and cries for repentance. He decides to make notes in the notebook again and live according to the rules he has recorded.