Shukshin’s story “The sun, the old man and the girl” can be attributed to the genre variety “story-fate”, because before the reader’s eyes the whole life of the 80-year-old man sweeps. The reader sees a girl at a turning point in her destiny.
The problems of this early story (1963) are moral and ethical. This is the problem of true beauty: is it internal or external? And the problem of spiritual and physical blindness. The problem of loneliness and warmth. The most important problem that opens to the girl in the finale is the mystery of human life and deed, not just making an adult girl, but also her life meaningful.
The plot and composition
The composition of the story is traditional for this genre (but not for Shukshin). The story begins with a landscape. The first sentence is a metaphor for the heat: “The days were burning with white fire.” In the landscape there is an image of the rapid Katun River, then the action takes place in Altai.
An ancient old man who comes to look at the huge red setting sun is also part of the landscape. He sits every day in the same place. Outwardly, he also looks like a tree, on his wrinkled bark, although Shukshin has no direct comparison. In the portrait next to the landscape, this similarity is emphasized: hands are brown, wrinkled and dry, wrinkled face. The reader understands that this person is very old.
Landscape and portrait – an
In addition to dialogue and landscape, Shukshin uses an internal monologue. The girl thinks about how she will bring the portrait of the wrinkled old man to the “distant dear city”, that there is no real talent in it and one must work hard, like an old man.
An evening at the old man’s house is described: his simple food, a dream on the stove. Shukshin emphasizes that the old man, the son and the daughter-in-law are silent: “And what to talk about? All the words have been said for a long time.” This is not a direct speech of the old man, and of other inhabitants of the house.
On the second day the girl asks the old man about his life. She does it rather out of courtesy to support the conversation. She learns that the old man had six sons, but four “broke in the war.” The girl, thinking about him, compares it with the sun: in the simple life of both the old man and the sun there is something significant.
By the way an old man takes a stone from the hands of a girl, she has a guess, is not he blind, but the girl does not dare to ask. The old man describes in detail how these pebbles – creams: their shape, size and color.
The climax is the ending of the story, in which the girl finds out about the death of the old man and the fact that he is already 10 years old already blind. The girl had a revolution of consciousness. She realized for the first time that the main thing is not regret that a person left, but she could not and did not have time to “talk about it,” but the fact that deep meaning lies in human life, both a mystery and a feat.
Heroes of the story
The heroes of the story have no names, which brings the story closer to the parable, generalizes. The three main characters are in the title.
The sun is the only thing that is accessible to the old man’s vision, the main thing in his life. He sees the light and looks at the light, maybe not only at sunset. Shukshin notes that the old man’s eyes are watery.
The main hero of the sun makes a girl who sees in the difficult and simple life of an old man much in common with the sun. But the reader, if he tries, will see another important property: both the old man and the sun are indifferent to what is happening on earth. The girl is surprised by the calm and tranquility of the old man, and he looks at all the events of his life already as if from eternity. Perhaps, because he lives so long that he became indifferent to what is happening? And as soon as the soul revived in him (her girl woke her with her questions about the past), so he felt an ache – the pain of the soul.
The old man in the story is the embodiment of wisdom, a well-lived life and a rather happy old age. His grandchildren love him, who sometimes come from the city, he is taken care of by one of his sons and daughter-in-law. The old man did not become a burden to anyone, he moves independently, despite blindness and 80-year-old age. The old man even continues to enjoy life, from where the pacification of the girl is struck. Its obviously a daily ritual of watching the sunset – the entertainment and pleasure of old age.
But the old man, like the sun, is lonely. He rushes to the sun in search of warmth, which he does not find in communion with his son and daughter-in-law. And there is no communication.
The old man acutely feels his uselessness. The grandchildren grew up, and for a long time he did not explain to anyone what the pebble is called. He finds an interlocutor in an unfamiliar girl who managed to see something important in him. The disappearance of the old man for her is like the disappearance of the sun in the sky. She goes to look for the old man, cries for his death (and the son does not cry or hides tears).
The girl is the third main character of the story. She is 25 years old, she is an artist who came from a distant city to sketches.
She does not consider herself a good artist. Judging by the fact that, while painting the old man, the girl always erases, she really does not do very well.
Why did the girl become an artist? She has a special gift – to see beauty in everyday, inner beauty. Because she is so attached to the old man that behind old age and wrinkles sees his heart. The girl is also blind in her own way: she sees wrong. For example, her senior mentor and, apparently, important for her young man is dissatisfied with the fact that she paints old people. The old man himself several times draws the attention of the interlocutor to the surrounding nature, but she does not seem to notice the beauty of the landscape, focusing on the main thing – the person. Twice she objects to the old man that he is handsome, calling him affectionately grandfather.
In this story, details are important. Attentive reader from the beginning of the story can guess that the old man is blind. The hero does not turn around and does not look at the girl, does not see the stone stretched to him, he sits all the time motionless. But the one who did not notice these details, just like the girl, thinks that the old man simply sees badly. Then the end becomes unexpected, and the story turns into a novel, losing the main sense of the story: in a few features and details show the whole life.
Another characteristic stylistic feature of the story is the variety of elements: portrait and landscape, detail, different types of speech characteristics (dialogue, internal monologue, improperly direct speech).