By Anton Chekhov
About the Author
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born on January 29, 1860, in the small seaport of Taganrog, Ukraine. He is regarded as one of Russia’s most cherished story tellers. Today, he is remembered as a playwright and one of the masters of the modern short story. He was the grandson of a serf and the son of a grocer. While he was doing medicine in the University of Moscow, he began writing short stories. After graduating in 1884, he worked as a freelance writer and journalist related to comics. He used the money gathered from it to support himself and his family, and by 1886, he had gained wide fame as a writer.
In 1888, Chekhov was rewarded the Pushkin Prize and the very next year, he was elected a member of the Society of Lovers of Russian Literature. In 1901, Chekhov finally married an actress, Olga Knipper, who had performed in his plays. On July 15, 1904, in Badenweiler, Germany, Chekhov died. He is buried in the cemetery of the Novodeviche Monastery in Moscow.
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This is the story of a beggar who earns a little by telling lies and thus evokes sympathy in his listeners. One day he comes across Sergei, who does not give him alms but offers to give him work. The beggar is weak and unwilling to do the laborious job of chopping wood. But the job is somehow done. He gives up begging. Years later when Sergei comes across the beggar, he is no longer a beggar but a respectable notary. Then he discloses the fact that it was Sergei’s maidservant who had chopped the wood for him. This act of her kindness had influenced him so much that his whole life was changed. He quits begging and starts leading a decent life. When people are under suffering, they should be given a helping hand to come up in life.
This is a story about a beggar, Lushkoff who used to beg as a school teacher or a student. He met an advocate named Sergei who offered him a job at his house. Sergei asked Lushkoff to chop woods for him. He asked his servant, Olga, to look after him. Lushkoff was very weak. He could not do any work. Olga found him incapable of chopping the wood. She rebuked him but she was very sympathetic to him. She wept for him. Olga decided to help him. She worked in his place and informed Sergei that he had done his work. She made him get half a rouble. Sergei asked Lushkoff to come to work on the first of every month.
Lushkoff was always rebuked by Olga for his inefficiency. But it was Olga only who helped him in his work. Once Sergei asked Lushkoff to help in the shifting of the house, he looked weak and unhealthy. Sergei thought that he should not put him to hard work and decided to send him to his friends for an easier job. Lushkoff got a more respectable job. After two years, Sergei met Lushkoff in a theatre. He was well-dressed and looked healthier. He had become a notary and was earning thirty-five roubles a month. Sergei felt good. Lushkoff thanked Sergei for his kind words and deed. He disclosed that it was Olga who helped and set him right. He would never forget her. Olga’s words and actions had brought a change in him. She made him quit drinking. Lushkoff expressed his gratitude towards Sergei and Olga. He bade him goodbye and departed for work.
Q. Has Lushkoff become a beggar by circumstance or by choice?
Ans. Lushkoff becomes a beggar by circumstances. He was a singer who used to sing in a Russian choir. He lost his job because of drunkenness. This led him to beg.
Q. What reasons does he give to Sergei for his telling lies?
Ans. He tells Sergei that he could not get along without lying. If he tells the truth, people would not give him alms.
Q. Is Lushkoff a willing worker? Why, then, does he agree to chop wood for Sergei?
Ans. No, Lushkoff is not a willing worker. He knows that he is not strong enough to work. In spite of that, he agrees to chop wood for Sergei. Sergei detects his lies and he feels ashamed. His conscience pushes him to agree for chopping wood.
Q. Sergei says, “I am happy that my words have taken effect.” Why does he say so? Is he right in saying this?
Ans. Sergei thinks that because of his timely advice Lushkoff could get rid of begging and is financially independent. He is right from his perspective because he doesn’t know that it was Olga who chopped woods for Lushkoff.
Q. Lushkoff is earning thirty five roubles a month. How is he obliged to Sergei for this?
Ans. Lushkoff is obliged to Sergei because if he had not come to Sergei, he would have continued begging. By listening to Sergei, he has changed his ways. He is a notary and earns thirty five roubles a month.
Q. During their conversation Lushkoff reveals that Sergei’s cook, Olga, is responsible for the positive change in him. How has Olga saved Lushkoff?
Ans. Olga takes pity on Llushkoff. She knows that such a weak man can’t chop wood. She helps him by chopping wood in his place. No matter how much abusive Olga is in her words but she has a helping attitude from deep inside. The very act of Olga changes Lushkoff’s heart. Had Olga not helped Lushkoff in chopping wood he would not have got the money he needed. He would not have got the chance to listen to Olga’s moral lessons.
Long Answer Type Questions
Q.Describe the first meeting between Sergei and Lushkoff. How did Sergei take pity on Lushkoff?
Ans. One day advocate Sergei came across a beggar. He was dressed in very poor clothes. He was crying and requested Sergei to have pity on him. He told Sergei that he had the offer of a position in Katuga, but he did not have money to get there. So he wanted some money to pay for the fare. Sergei looked at the beggar closely. Suddenly he remembered that he had seen him the previous day in Sadovya Street. Then he had told him that he was a student and had been expelled for not paying his fees. At first, the beggar denied the charge but when Sergei rebuked him, he admitted that he earned his living by lying. He told Sergei that his name was Lushkoff and that he was out of work. Sergei refused to give him alms. But he said that he would give him work of chopping wood. He brought Lushkoff home. He called his maidservant Olga and told her to take him into the woodshed and get some wood chopped. Sergei could see from a room that Lushkoff was weak as well as unwilling to do the chopping work. However, after one hour, Olga came and told Sergei that the wood had been chopped. She gave Lushkoff half a rouble.
Q. Describe the last meeting between Sergei and Lushkoff. How did Olga help Lushkoff to be a real man?
Ans. One day, after two years, Sergei came across Lushkoff standing at the ticket window of a theatre, paying for a seat. He was wearing a coat collar of curly fur and sealskin cap. Sergei recognized him. Lushkoff told him that now he was a notary and was paid thirty-five roubles a month. Sergei was pleased to hear this. He congratulated Lushk off for standing on his own feet in life. At this Lushkoff disclosed something to him. He said that it was not because of him, but his maidservant Olga that he had reformed himself. When he used to come to his house to chop wood, he could not do so because he was weak and inexperienced. Then Olga would take pity on him and chop the wood for him. He told Sergei that he never chopped a single stick. It was all done by Olga. Her kindness transformed him. He stopped drinking and started earning his living by hard work. In this way, Olga’s kindness had changed his life
Q. How was Lushkoff, the beggar different from Lushkoff, the notary?
Ans. Lushkoff, the beggar used to resort to lies in order to get sympathy and money from people. He had a repulsive and disgusting appearance. He wore a ragged fawn-coloured overcoat and his eyes were dull and drunken. Each of his cheeks had a red spot. One of his overshoes was higher than the other. He was hated for his dishonesty and swindling. He was very weak both physically and emotionally because of alcoholic habits. He did not have any self-respect or dignity and quietly took all the jeering from others.
Lushkoff, the notary, in contrast, looked like a gentleman. He wore a coat collar of curly fur and a worn sealskin cap. He was paid thirty-five roubles a month for his ‘clean employment’. He was a respectable and responsible person now, not the alcoholic who had stooped to telling lies and begging alms for survival. He now had both a reformed soul and an improved life.
Q. How can we help beggars/abolish begging?
Ans. Most of the countries face the nuisance of begging especially in poor countries. Beggars can be seen at all public places. Some of the beggars have made it a business. It has become a serious problem. Our society and the government should take necessary steps to solve this problem. The global spread of education is required. Our government should pass strict laws against begging. Beggars should be given an opportunity to work. Financial support can be provided to them in order to set up some work. Beggars may be turned into skilled labourers. The government should set up beggar’s home only for the handicapped. Begging is a bad practice and is an impediment in the way of progress. So, we should discourage begging and beggars.
Q. Compassion and pity can bring positive changes in human being. How did Olga prove it?
Ans. Yes, it is true that compassion and pity it can bring positive changes in the human being. Olga came to know about the condition of Lushkoff. She understood that he was a victim of his bad habits and circumstances. She helped him by working in his place. This brought a positive change in Lushkoff who became a good and successful person in life. In general life, a convict can be made a true human by love and compassion. But when he gets love and compassion from others, it arouses a feeling in his heart to improve himself and become a good man. A convict who is not improved by harsh punishment can easily be improved by the loving and sympathetic attitude towards him.
Q. ‘It is better to help one by giving work than giving alms’. Comment with the help of the character Sergei in the Beggar’.
Ans. Begging is a curse in our society. Giving alms to a young and lazy person is not to help him. By giving work instead of alms, he can be made to lead a decent life. In the story, Sergei was a kind and noble man. He found Lushkoff begging. He offered him the task of chopping wood. Sergei did not have any other work to offer him at that time. But Lushkoff was not fit for the physical labour. His health was very poor. Olga, a kindhearted lady helped Lushkoff much by working in his place. He was deeply inspired by Olga and left drinking. He regained his confidence and self-respect. This brought a positive change in Lushkoff who became a good and successful notary.