A Christmas Tree and a Wedding
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|"A Christmas Tree and a Wedding"|
"A Christmas Tree and a Wedding" (Russian: Ёлка и свадьба, Yolka i svad'ba) is a short story written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in 1848. The piece is narrated by an awkward outcast attending a Christmas party. The man, although invited, knows only the host and talks to no one. He observes the party's guest of honour and takes special interest in one of the children.
The narrator begins by mentioning to the reader that he had just been to a wedding but recalls a Christmas party that he had found more interesting.
The party was given with the pretext of being a children's party, but its real purpose was for the wealthy host's family to talk business with rich members of the community. The wealthiest guest was Julian Mastakovich, a rotund landowner.
Without anyone to talk to, the narrator fell to simply observing the guests. The narrator takes particular interest in the children. They were given gifts in accordance with their social standing. The eleven-year-old daughter of a wealthy government contractor received an expensive doll, while the poorest child, the son of the family governess, received only a small book without illustrations or even a front and back cover.
After being bullied by the other richer boys, the poor boy retreats to another room where he and the rich daughter play happily with the doll. Julian Matsakovich also retreats from the rest of the crowd to observe the rich daughter, who already had a dowry set aside of 300,000 rubles. As Mastakovich observes the girl, he calculates what her dowry (with interest) would be at age sixteen, and he comes up with the astounding sum of 500,000 rubles.
Mastakovich approaches the girl and kisses her on the head. The girl recoils from his gesture, and she looks to her playmate for protection. Mastakovich tries to scare the poor boy away while trying to get a promise of love from the young girl, and eventually he causes a scene where he chases the poor boy around the party, whipping at him with his handkerchief.
The wedding that the narrator came across five years later was indeed the wedding between Julian Mastakovich and the rich girl, now sixteen.
- Magarshack, David, The Best Stories of Fyodor Dostoevsky, (New York: The Modern Library, 2005), xi-xxvi
- A Christmas Tree and a Wedding IMDB profile
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