The Idiot (Kuprin)

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The Idiot
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man shared his experience of befriending an idiot boy, attempting to educate him, and receiving unexpected compassion from the boy during a time of personal hardship.

A man named Zimina shared a story about his experience with an idiot boy named Stepan, who lived with his mother, Alexandra Ivanovna. Zimina had failed an important examination and was struggling financially, so he decided to visit Alexandra Ivanovna, a distant relative, for support.

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Zimina — narrator; strong, good-natured, compassionate; military officer.

During his visits, he became interested in Stepan and tried to help him develop his mind using a Swiss doctor's system, but with no success. "Poor man!" exclaimed my companion in a gentle voice.

Poor man! exclaimed my companion in a gentle voice.

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Stepan (Papan) — idiot boy; over 29 years old; unable to speak properly; gentle, compassionate, and attached to Zimina.

As Zimina's financial situation worsened, he asked Alexandra Ivanovna for a loan, but she was also struggling and couldn't help him.

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Alexandra Ivanovna — Stepan's mother; quiet, timid, and poor; struggling with life's hardships.

Desperate and hungry, Zimina felt abandoned and humiliated. Suddenly, Stepan approached him and offered him a small pile of copper money, which he called "teki." "Teki, teki, teki. Stepan held out to me on his palm a little pile of copper money."

Teki, teki, teki. Stepan held out to me on his palm a little pile of copper money.

This unexpected act of kindness and sympathy from Stepan moved Zimina to tears and made him realize that as long as there is love and compassion in the world, one should continue to live.

Zimina's encounter with Stepan changed his perspective on life, and he began to believe that even those who are considered "idiots" are still human beings deserving of love and compassion. This experience also brought happiness and fulfillment to Zimina's life, making him grateful for not becoming an officer of the General Staff, as he had originally planned.