The Chapel (Bunin)

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The Chapel
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: Children from a country estate explored an old, neglected graveyard and chapel, contemplating the contrast between their lively surroundings and the cold, dark resting place of the deceased.

On a hot summer's day, behind the garden of an old country estate, there was a long-forgotten graveyard. The graveyard was filled with mounds covered in tall flowers and grasses, and a solitary, dilapidated, brick-built chapel that was wildly overgrown with flowers, grasses, nettles, and alliums. Children from the estate were squatting beside the chapel, peering in through a long and narrow broken window at ground level.

The Children — young, curious, and adventurous; they are exploring the old chapel and graveyard.

Inside the chapel, it was dark and cold, with a chilling draught coming from the window. The children could not see anything, but they knew that inside lay the remains of their ancestors in iron boxes. Among them was a man who had taken his own life. The children found it fascinating and terrifying that while they enjoyed the sunshine, flowers, and freedom to play, these people were forever confined to the darkness.

One of the children asked why the man had shot himself.

But why did he shoot himself? He was very much in love, and when very much in love, they always shoot themselves…

The answer was that he was very much in love, and when people are very much in love, they sometimes take their own lives. The contrast between the joyous, sunny day outside and the cold, dark interior of the chapel was stark. The warm wind from the fields carried the sweet scent of flowering rye, and the sun shone brightly, but the draught from the chapel window remained cold.

In the blue sea of the sky, there are beautiful white clouds in places like islands, and the warm wind from the fields bears the sweet scent of flowering rye.