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Vanka – Anton Chechov

  • Vanka Zhukov was a a boy of nine. He had been working for Alyahin the shoemaker for the last three months.
  • It is Christmas today and tomorrow but Vanka is sad and distressed because he feels quite lonely in this world.
  • He is writing a letter to his grandfather, the only one he had in this world.
  • Having waited till his master and mistress and their workmen had gone to the midnight church services, Vanka got ready to write the letter.
  • He took out a bottle of ink and a pen with a rusty nib, out of his master’s cupboard.
  • He spread out a crumpled sheet of paper in front of him and began writing.
  • Before writing the first word, he looked round fearfully at the door and the windows.
  • Then he stole a glance (peered) at the dark ikon (image of God), on both sides of which stretched shelves full of lasts (shoe-maker’s tools) and heaved a broken sigh.
  • The paper lay on the bench while he knelt before it.
  • He wrote – “Dear grandfather, Konstantin Makaritch, I am writing you a letter. I wish you a happy Christmas, and all blessings from God Almighty. I have neither father nor mother, you are the only one left me.”
Vanka is Alone
  • Apprenticed – Put to work under a professional for gaining experience
  • Christmas Eve – 24th of December, the evening before Christmas.
  • Ikon – Picture of a god/saint/guru, etc.
  • Last – A shoemaker’s apparatus for shaping or repairing a shoe/boot
  • Nib – the metallic point of an ink-pen.
Questions & Answers
  1. Who was Vanka Zhukov?
    Vanka Zhukov was a boy of nine. Almost an orphan boy, he had been working under a shoemaker called Alyahin for the last three months.
  2. Who is an apprentice?
    An apprentice is an unskilled person who works under an experienced professional to learn his trade.
  3. Who was Vanka writing the letter to?
    Vanka was writing the letter to his grandfather, Konstantin Makaritch, the only relative and hope Vanka had in life.
  4. When did Vanka start writing the letter?
    Vanka began to write the letter at midnight, when his master, his wife and all the servants had gone to the church to attend the Christmas services.
  5. How did Vanka prepare for writing the letter?
    Vanka had waited till he was left alone at home. When everyone had gone, he took out a bottle of ink and a pen with a rusty nib from his master’s cupboard. Then he spread out a crumpled sheet of paper on a bench in front of him, knelt in front of it, looked around several times to ensure that he was not being watched by anyone and began writing.
  6. Why was Vanka very careful about writing the letter?
    Vanka didn’t like his life in the city of Moscow where he lived. He was writing the letter very secretly so that his grandfather would come and take him from Alyahin, his present master.
  7. How did Vanka begin the letter?
    Vanka began the letter by addressing his grandfather by name and the by wishing him a happy Christmas and all blessings from God Almighty. He the said that he was the only one he had in the world as he had neither father nor mother.
Next – Vanka remembers his Grandfather

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