Friday, August 18, 2017


Almost all the stories of Leo Tolstoy are an extension of Biblical sayings .
‘The story of Ivan the Fool' appears to me an extension of the saying “Blessed are the meek for they shall rule the world “ or nearer home the saying “Chandre de 15 te Bhole de 16” .
The story revolves around three brothers - Simon the soldier, Taras the stout , Ivan the fool -, and their dumb sister Martha . The old Devil and the three Imps are of course the villains in the story. Simon , a warrior goes to serve the King , Taras goes to the town to work with a merchant and Ivan who is called the fool because he is not worldly wise or street smart stays in the village, works hard in the fields and takes care of his old parents and the dumb sister. Simon the soldier does well and is rewarded with a higher rank and the assignment of an estate by the King and gets married to nobleman’s daughter ; Taras does equally well , earns a lot , is able to enjoy good life, and gets married to a merchant’s daughter. But enough is not enough for both the brothers. Simon’s wife squanders money and Taras just wants more. By turns they come to their father to claim their share of the property. The father initially refuses to give them anything as they have not contributed anything to the household .Ivan, magnanimous and good hearted that he is, making nothing of the scorn and disdain that his two arrogant and highflying brothers have for him persuades his father to give them their share . Simon takes away some goods and Taras half the foodgrain & the grey stallion . The old Devil is peeved at this peaceful settlement among the brothers and thinks of spoiling the game. He deputes an Imp each to thwart the plans and smooth going of three brothers.They aim to ruin the three brothers and make them sworn enemies of one another , so that they finish themselves fighting amongst themselves. The Imp deputed to Simon induces in him a feeling of false grandeur who takes on the army of a rival king but due to Imp’s machination and evil designs powder in the guns gets damp and renders the guns useless . Besides, the Imp has raised an army of straw soldiers for the rival side . As a result badly Vanquished, Simon has no option but to return home,having his Estate confiscated and narrowly escaping being imprisoned . Similarly, the Imp deputed to Taras induces him into a buying spree and Taras after exhausting all his money runs into debt . He too is left with no other option but to return home. Meanwhile, the Imp deputed to Ivan finds him a hard nut as despite obstacles put by the Imp in Ivan ploughing the field, undaunted Ivan ploughs the field and catches hold of the Imp who is lying buried in the ground and releases him only after getting three cure-all roots, one of which he takes and is relieved of his stomach ache.Ivan release the Imp saying ‘ ……God be with you “ At the very mention of God, the Imp falls into a hole in the ground and disappears .
After the day’s work is done , Ivan returns home only to find Simon and his wife who have returned to live with him . Not humbled by their changed circumstances, they force Ivan to stay out as they can’t stand the smell that comes from him . Now Simon’s Imp comes to the help of Ivan’s Imp but finding him nowhere puts himself in his place and plays all the evil tricks that he can. He too gets caught and is released only after he has had a miracle of making money by rubbing oak tree leaves in his palms. In course of time all the three Imps meet the same fate and are finished .
To make a long story short, Ivan the Fool , eventually marries the King’s daughter and after King’s death becomes the King.
Getting no report from the Imps , the Old devil himself comes looking for them and finds that they have been finished. He sets about the job of ruining the three brothers turn by turn and gets the better of Simon and Taras and almost ruins them. However, when he comes to play tricks on Ivan, the Old Devil gets defeated in his own game. Now Ivan is the unchallenged King , his brothers come to live with him . In his kingdom everyone gets food and shelter , but the condition is that only those with callused hands are allowed to sit on the table to eat and those who do not work themselves manually have to make do with the leftovers. Tolstoy through Ivan thus preaches and propogates the dignity of labour .
The taste of pudding is in the eating , so please take time off to read the story !

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