The Little Red Christmas Tree (Kuprin)

From Wikisum
Disclaimer: This summary was generated by AI, so it may contain errors.
The Little Red Christmas Tree
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A lonely bourgeois man, the last of his kind in Soviet Russia, was visited by commissars who tried to cheer him up with a revolutionary-themed Christmas tree.

In the 1930s, the Russian middle class was nearing extinction due to hunger, executions, and mass migration to Soviet territories. The government issued decrees to preserve the remaining bourgeoisie, as they were considered national property. Stepan Nilitch Rybkin, a childless widower and former grocery store owner, was the last remaining bourgeois in Soviet Russia.

Stepan Nilitch Rybkin — last bourgeois in Soviet Russia; middle-aged, balding, gray-haired; lonely, nostalgic, and discontented.

On December 24, 1935, two Soviet Commissars visited Rybkin at his home.

The Commissars — two Soviet officials; one stammers and smiles, the other is a former actor; persuasive, empathetic.

They discussed his living conditions and offered him various luxuries, but Rybkin expressed his dissatisfaction with his isolated life.

I’m fed up, comrades, with this business of being a bourgeois. I don’t want any more of it. I can’t stand it and don’t want to.

He requested to be transferred to a Soviet position, but the Commissars insisted that he remain in his current status for the sake of the perpetual revolution and the class war.

No, Comrade Rybkin must stay at his glorious post—not destroy the work of the revolution.

Rybkin eventually agreed to stay in his position for another year, but he felt nostalgic for the old days when people used to celebrate Christmas with trees and decorations. Later that day, he visited a communal shoemaker and tried to reminisce about the past, but they were unable to speak freely due to the presence of a Terrorist Tribunal member nearby.

Upon returning home, Rybkin was surprised to find a brightly lit Christmas tree in his parlor, decorated with revolutionary symbols. Overwhelmed with emotion, he recited a phrase about winning rights in the class war and burst into tears.