Pure Monday (Bunin)

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Pure Monday
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A wealthy, handsome man falls in love with an enigmatic, beautiful woman, lavishing her with gifts and companionship. But after an emotionally-charged evening, she abruptly leaves to become a nun, leaving him heartbroken.

In the grey winters of Moscow, the narrator, a rich and handsome man from Penza, recounts his love affair with a woman who lives across the Church of Christ the Saviour.

Narrator — narrator; rich, handsome man from Penza; lively, passionate; in love with the student.

The evening life in Moscow unfurls in front of their eyes as their coachman carts them from one part of the city to another. Despite their intimate relation, there is a sense of unrevealed mystery between them. She is a keen reader with an inherent curiosity about the world but seems aloof about the future of their relationship.

Student — the woman the narrator is in love with; student, beautiful, mysterious; retreats to a convent.

But he is too enamored to question it and stays content in her presence.

One day, she asks him to accompany her to the New Maiden Convent. Surprised at her religiosity, he learns more about her nuances. Her conversations her filled with musings about the history of Russia. They visit a tavern later and indulge in merriment with the locals. At the end of the night, she lets him into her home for the first time. It is here that she reveals to him that she would be leaving for Tver and also implies her intention to devote her life to religion.

I’m leaving this evening for Tver. Whether it’s for long, God alone knows…

Heartbroken, he makes efforts to retrieve his life back together but is unsuccessful. Many months later, he sees her marching as a nun with a group from the Convent of Sts Martha and Mary. Her life has drastically changed and so has his. The love they once shared, even though not perfectly reciprocated, now exists as a fleeting memory. Despite the heartache, there is a sense of acceptance towards the inevitable.