There is the sixteenth spring of Nikolay Irtenyev. He is preparing for the examinations to the university, overflowing with dreams and reflections on his future destiny. To clarify the purpose of life, Nikolai starts a separate notebook where he writes down the duties and rules necessary for moral improvement. In a passionate environment, a gray-haired monk, a confessor, comes to the house. After the confession, Nicholas feels clean and new. But at night he suddenly remembers one of his shameful sin, which he concealed in confession. He hardly sleeps until morning and at six o’clock rushes to the monastery in a cab to confess again. Joyful, Nicholas goes back, it seems to him that the best and purest of him there is no man in the world. He does not hold back and talks about his confession to the cabman. And he answers: “And what, sir, is your business masterful.”
Nikolay successfully passes the exams and enlisted in the university. Home congratulate him. At the
order of his father, at full disposal of Nicholas come coachman Kuzma, a spar and bay Beauty. Deciding that he is already quite an adult, Nikolai buys on Kuznetsky Bridge many different knickknacks, a pipe and tobacco. At home, he tries to smoke, but feels sick and weak. Dmitry Nekhlyudov, who came after him, reproaches Nikolai, explaining all the stupidity of smoking. Friends along with Volodya and Dubkov go to the restaurant to celebrate the arrival of the youngest Irtenev in the university. Observing the behavior of young people, Nikolai remarks that Nekhlyudov differs from Volodya and Dubkov in the best, right way: he does not smoke, does not play cards, does not talk about love affairs. But because of boyish ecstasy before his adult life, Nicholas wants to imitate Volodya with Dubkov. He drinks champagne, lights a cigarette in a restaurant from a burning candle that stands on a table in front of strangers. As a result, there is a quarrel with a certain Kolpikov. Nikolai feels insulted, but he tears off all his offense on Dubkov, unjustly yelling at him. Realizing all the childishness of his friend’s behavior,
Nekhlyudov reassures and comforts him.
The next day, on the orders of his father, Nikolenka is sent, as an adult, to make visits. He visits the Valakhins, Kornakovs, Ivin, Prince Ivan Ivanych, with difficulty enduring long hours of forced conversations. Nikolay feels free and easy only in the company of Dmitry Nekhlyudov, who invites him to visit his mother in Kuntsevo. On the way, friends talk on different topics, Nikolai admits that recently he was completely confused in the variety of new impressions. He likes quiet tranquility in Dmitrov without a touch of edification, a free and noble mind, he likes that Nekhlyudov forgave the shameful history in the restaurant, as if not giving it special significance. Through conversations with Dmitry, Nikolai begins to understand that growing up is not a simple change in time, but a slow formation of the soul.
The next day Nikolay goes to the post office to the village, where memories of his childhood, of his mother, come to life with renewed vigor. He thinks a lot, thinks about his future place in the world, about the notion of good manners, which requires enormous inner labor over oneself. Enjoying the village life, Nikolai with joy realizes in himself the ability to see and feel the most subtle shades of the beauty of nature.
My father is married for the second time in forty-eight years. Children do not like their stepmother, their father and his new wife develop relationships of “quiet hatred” in a few months.
С началом учебы в университете Николаю кажется, что он растворяется в массе таких же студентов и во многом разочарован новой жизнью. Он мечется от разговоров с Нехлюдовым до участия в студенческих кутежах, которые осуждаемы его другом. Иртеньева раздражают условности светского общества, которые кажутся в большей своей части притворством ничтожных людей. Среди студентов у Николая появляются новые знакомые, и он замечает, что главной заботой у этих людей является получение от жизни прежде всего удовольствия. Под влиянием новых знакомых он неосознанно следует такому же принципу. Небрежность в учебе приносит свои плоды: на первом экзамене Николай проваливается. Три дня он не выходит из комнаты, чувствует себя истинно несчастливым и потерявшим всю прежнюю радость жизни. Дмитрий посещает его, но из-за охлаждения, которое наступает в их дружбе, сочувствие Нехлюдова кажется Николаю снисходительным и поэтому оскорбительным.
One evening, late at night, Nikolai takes out a notebook on which it says: “Rules of life.” From the flooded feelings associated with youthful dreams, he cries, but already with tears not of despair, but of repentance and moral impulse. He decides to write the rules of life again and never change them again. The first half of youth ends in anticipation of the next, happier.