A Dead Body
Main Character Analysis
Symushka-He is also called Syoma by the other peasant, who remains nameless in the whole story. He is chided for falling asleep by the nameless peasant. "Don't you go to sleep, Syoma . . ." (A Dead Body). They are both on watch. Syoma is a very simple guy and the other peasant constantly tells him that.
Other Peasant- This is the nameless peasant. He is referred to as 'the young man.' Truthfully, he is a bit condescending and kind of a jerk to Syoma. "I dare say you are fifty, but you have less sense than a child. Aren't you sorry that you are a simpleton?" (A Dead Body) He also leaves when the pilgrim traveler comes.
Traveler- He is horrified at the sight of the dead body. "What? what body? Holy Mother!" "...I am afraid of the dead. I am afraid of them, and that is all about it" (A Dead Body). He is a pilgrim and part of a monastery. He asks the young man to accompany him to the village up the road as that is home. The young man lives with him.
The dead body represents the corruption in the world. Obviously two men sitting by a dead body should have tipped off the traveler that something was up, but he was blinded by fear.
This represents the darkness of the world. Something bad obviously happened, so when things got darker, it was known something worse was going to happen next.
At the beginning of the story, the body had white linen over it, representing the purity of death, indicating maybe he had died of natural causes. Later on, we find out this may not be true anymore.
Exposition- The audience is introduced to Syoma and the nameless peasant, who are watching a dead body.
Rising Action- Syoma keeps falling asleep and the young man keeps criticizing him and his flaws. A traveler comes and asks multiple questions about the body, like who he is, where he is from, how he died, and so on. The peasants say he was a stranger, and they have no idea. The traveler, a pilgrim, offers to pray, but they say not to make any haste decisions because it could've been a suicide. The traveler says he is afraid of the dead and cannot go on alone. He asks for help.
Climax- The young man decides to go with him. He leaves Syoma in charge.
Falling Action- The young man and the traveler walk off into the distance towards the village. Syoma falls asleep.
Resolution- The fire grows dim and a black shadow falls over the body, presumably a person. This is open to interpretation, but personally, I think the murderer came back for the body and that both peasants were in on it.
One can assume due to the name Syoma and the author's nationality that it takes place in Russia. There is no indication at all of the time period, other than the fact that people are still referred to as peasants, so this is not a modernized story. It's probably late 1800's or early 1900's as that was when the author was alive.
The traveler put a lot of faith and trust into the peasants and it shows that one can never be too careful because for all we know, they did kill the man. It's good to trust people and always give the benefit of the doubt, but one needs to evaluate their situation, especially if they could be in danger.