The Clemency of the Court

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"The Clemency of the Court" is a short story by Willa Cather. It was first published on 26 October 1893 in The Hesperian.[1]

Title explanation[edit]

The title refers to Serge's being in prison for the rest of his life rather than being given the death penalty.

Plot summary[edit]

Serge, a man who was brought up by a Russian woman after his mother died, kills the babushka's husband after he kills Serge's dog. Serge is then sent to a borstal. The story ends with the rationale that even though life was tough in Russia, the United States cares for their children no better.


  • Serge Povolitchsky, a young man whose Russian mother drowned in a pond
  • Mrs Sholdi Davis, the Russian woman who cares for Serge
  • Mr Davis, Sholdi's husband
  • Matushka, Serge's dog


  1. ^ Willa Cather's Collected Short Fiction, University of Nebraska Press; Rev Ed edition, 1 Nov 1970, page 540

External links[edit]