“The Peasant’s Bread” is a novel that revolves around the life of a peasant family in a rural setting. The story follows their struggles, triumphs, and challenges as they navigate through various hardships, societal dynamics, and personal aspirations.
The Peasant’s Bread Summary
The Peasant’s Bread Introduction:
A poor peasant went off one morning to plough his field. He hid his breakfast under a bush and began to plough. When he felt hungry, he came to have his breakfast. But it was not there. An imp had stolen it. The peasant didn’t get angry. He only said, “Whoever took the bread, needed it. May it do him good !” The imp went back to the Devil and reported what had happened.
The Devil grew angry with the imp. He said, “You don’t understand your business !” The imp’s business was to make a man do wrong. But the imp had failed in his business. The Devil told the imp that he would punish him if he could not have the peasant in his control in three years.
The imp made a plan to get the better of the peasant. And he succeeded in it. He made the peasant behave like wild animals. The Devil was so pleased with the imp’s success that he gave him a position of high honour.
The Peasant’s Bread Summary in English:
Early one morning, a poor peasant went to plough his field. He took his breakfast with him. He put his coat round the breakfast and hid it under a bush. Then he started his work. After a while, he felt hungry. He came to the bush to have his breakfast. But it was not there. The peasant looked here and there. But it was nowhere.
The peasant could not understand this at all. “I saw no one here. But someone has been here and has stolen the bread !” he said. In fact, it was an imp who had stolen his breakfast. He had stolen it while the peasant was ploughing. Now he was sitting behind the bush. He wanted to hear the peasant swear. He was waiting to see him call on the name of the Devil.
But the peasant didn’t swear at anybody. He only said, “After all, I shall not die of hunger ! No doubt, whoever took the bread, needed it. May it do him good.” The peasant went to the well, drank some water and began ploughing again.
The imp went back to the Devil, his master, and reported what had happened. The Devil grew angry with the imp and said, “It was your fault if you couldn’t get the better of the man. You don’t understand your business !” He further said that if the imp did not get the better of that peasant within three years, he would be thrown into the holy water.
The imp was so frightened that he hurried back to the earth. He wanted to make up for his failure. He thought of a plan to get the better of the poor peasant. The imp changed himself into a working man and went to work with the poor peasant. The first year, he advised the peasant to sow corn in a low-lying damp place. The peasant took the imp’s advice.
It happened to be a very dry year. The hot sun burnt up the crops of the other peasants. But the poor peasant had a very good crop. He had enough for his needs and much to spare. The next year, the imp advised the peasant to sow on the hill. Again the peasant accepted the imp’s advice. This year, it rained very heavily. The crops of the other peasants were beaten down.
Summary of The Peasant’s Bread
But the peasant’s crop on the hill was a fine one. Now he had even more grain to spare. He did not know what to do with it all. The imp asked the peasant to make vodka from it. He showed the peasant how he could make vodka from the grain. The peasant made vodka and began to drink it. Then the imp reported to the Devil about his success.
The Devil said that he would himself go to the earth and see it. Then the Devil came to the peasant’s house. He saw that the peasant had invited his wealthy friends. His wife was offering the drink to the guests. But as she took it round, she fell against a table. A glassful of vodka splashed on to the floor. The peasant shouted angrily at his wife, “You foolish woman !
Do you think that this good drink is dirty water that you can pour all over the floor ?” The imp said to the Devil, “Now see for yourself. That is the man who made no trouble when he lost his only piece of bread.” Just then, a poor peasant came there. He was on his way from work. He was feeling very thirsty.
Though he had not been invited, he hoped that he too would be given some vodka. But the host didn’t offer him any. Rather he said dryly, “I cannot find drink for everyone who comes here.” This pleased the Devil even more. Then the Devil saw that the peasant and his friends were drinking and telling nice lies about each other. Then they had another glass and started behaving like foxes, trying to please each other.
They had another glass each. Their talk became rougher and wilder. Soon they started fighting like wolves. They hit one another on the nose. The peasant also joined them. After taking another glass each, they started behaving like pigs. They made strange noises. When the guests started leaving, the host went out to bid them goodbye. He fell down on his nose in the mud. He lay there making noises like a pig.
The Devil was much pleased with the imp. He thought that in preparing vodka, the imp first added to it the blood of foxes, then of wolves and lastly of pigs. That was why first the peasants behaved like foxes, then like wolves and in the end like pigs.
But the imp told the Devil that he had not done any such thing. He had only made certain that the peasant had more grain than he needed. When man has more than he needs, the blood of wild animals automatically springs up in man. The Devil was so pleased with the imp that he gave him a position of high honour.