Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy

Great Russian writer

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself"

What is After the Ball about?

In ‘After the Ball’ Leo Tolstoy wanted to make it clear to readers that only the man himself is the creator of his future. The final choice – to go the way of good or evil – always rests on his shoulders.

At the beginning of the story the author talks about a meeting of friends. They wonder if the environment affects the fate of any given person. Ivan Vasilievich, who is the protagonist, believes that chance determines much of it. He tells his friends about a situation that changed his own life. The following summary of “After the Ball” – the story of the main character in the retelling.

Young Ivan Vasilyevich falls in love with the daughter of a prominent military man. He really wants to marry the girl. At one of the balls the hero has a wonderful time with his beloved. The whole society (including him) is delighted with her and her father.

After the ball, the young man cannot sleep and goes for a walk at dawn. Suddenly strange noises can be heard in the street. Ivan goes towards them and discovers that the soldiers are beating with sticks the deserter they have captured. The father of his would-be bride observes the order. He sees Ivan, but pretends not to know him.

What he has seen changes Ivan Vassilyevich considerably. His feelings for his beloved cool down, and his military and bureaucratic careers no longer attract him.

The summary of the story “After the Ball” deliberately omitted some of the details of the narrative. They are taken out of the retelling so that you can read them separately. This way they will stick in your memory better:

  1. Ivan Vasilievich is a nobleman. He is a university student at the time of the events.
  2. Ivan’s lover’s name is Varenka.
  3. The girl’s father’s name is Pyotr Vladislavich. He gives the impression of a well-bred and noble man.
  4. The ball takes place during Shrovetide.
  5. Varenka’s first dance of the evening is with the engineer Anisimov.
  6. The hero dances a mazurka with his beloved.
  7. Varenka bequeaths her glove to Ivan as a memento.
  8. The deserter is beaten on the square.
  9. The beaten man was a Tatar.
  10. The beating is accompanied by the sound of the drum and the flute.

The trusting, honest and conscientious Ivan learns a bitter lesson. The young man discovers for the first time that life is ambiguous and contradictory. After a wonderful evening he sees unjustified cruelty and callousness towards human suffering. Tolstoy’s story above all teaches us to be honest with ourselves. The hero understands that he cannot change the world for the better. However, he does have the choice to be part of the evil or to stay away from it.