Denis Grigoryev is an archetypal of the peasantry class in
the Russia of yester years. Standing accused before
the magistrate he has to answer the charge of stealing bolts that stay the rail
to the sleepers. His defence is that he needs the nuts for his fishing lines to
provide for his family.
The magistrate refuse to temper his judgement with the
milieu of Denis’ situation arguing that his actions directly endanger the lives
of the rail commuters and could have been responsible for the derailing of a
train the previous year. Denis pleadings fall on deaf ears.
Chekhov manages to weave effortlessly the pitiful state of the peasants and
their struggle for their suffrage and enfranchisement in the face of a class
stratified society where a few are in control in a deliberate pace with Denis’
wit filling the interstices of the plot.