The Beginning (Bunin)

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The Beginning
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A young boy traveling home for Christmas holidays experiences his first feelings of desire towards a woman he encounters on the train, marking the end of his innocence.

A young boy of about twelve years old was traveling home from school for the Christmas holidays. He was alone in a first-class carriage, enjoying the solitude and the anticipation of the holiday season.

The Narrator — young boy; observant, curious, and experiencing his first feelings of desire.

At a station, a pale, black-eyed young lady and a large, imposing man entered the carriage. The boy moved to a smaller seat to observe the newcomers.

The Lady — pale, black-eyed woman; attractive, mysterious, and seemingly indifferent.
The Gentleman — strapping man with yellow eyes; imposing, indifferent, and seemingly wealthy.

The man ignored the boy completely, which initially sparked a feeling of hatred in the boy. However, his attention quickly shifted to the lady. She lay down on the couch, removed her bonnet revealing short hair, and dozed off. The boy was captivated by her beauty and femininity, and he watched her sleep until his station arrived.

I was already absorbing and coming to comprehend all there is that is indescribable in the recumbent female body.

The sleep of a woman you desire, who draws your whole being to her – you know what that is like!

Upon arrival, he was met by his coachman who handed him a fur coat. He put it on and rode home in a sledge, his mind filled with thoughts of the lady he had just encountered, overshadowing the excitement of the holiday season and the anticipation of seeing his pet wolf cub.