"Katarynka" - a summary of the short story by Bolesław Prus

"Katarynka", the summary of which we have prepared, was written in 1880. Its action takes place in nineteenth-century Warsaw. What is it about?

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1. "Katarynka" - a summary of the short story

The main character of "Katarynka" is Mr. Tomasz - a distinguished elderly gentleman, attorney. He is wealthy and has his own habits - for 30 years he has been walking every day on the section connecting Krasińskich Square with Senatorska Street (he lived in Warsaw's Old Town, in a tenement house on Miodowa Street).

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Mr. Tomasz is lonely. He has no wife, although - as we learn from the narrator - he led a social life and women were interested in him. He spends his time collecting works of art and beautiful furniture. He takes care of himself. There is only one thing he doesn't like - the sound of street organ grinders.

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Poor tenants live in the outbuildings on the other side of the yard. Among them is an 8-year-old girl who lost her eyesight as a result of an illness two years earlier. He lives with two women. He never leaves the apartment. The day is the same as the night for her. He forgets the colors, he cannot play with the children. He sits in the window all day to listen to the sounds of the organ grinders. Then she forgot about her disability and the limitations resulting from it. She was happy.

Thanks to Mr. Tomasz's help, who paid for her visits to the best specialists, the girl regained her sight.

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2. "Katarynka" as an example of a positivist short story

The short stories of Bolesław Prus are distinguished by the gift of observation and a subtly outlined psychological study of the characters. The author showed remarkable sensitivity and a sense of social duty.

Almost each of the authors of the positivist era, apart from extensive novels, also has short novellas in his output. They were written, among others, by Henryk Sienkiewicz ("Szkice coal", "Latarnik", "Za bread", "Sachem"), Eliza Orzeszkowa ("Tadeusz", "Gloria victis"), Maria Konopnicka ("Dym", "Nasza Szkapa", "Mendel Gdański" ").

The short story is a short epic. Its roots can be found in antiquity, but its position in literature has been strengthened by Giovanni Boccaccio's "Decameron" and Miguel Cervantes's "Exemplary novels". In Romanticism, this genre reached, among others, Johann Wolfgang Goethe (author of "The Suffering of Young Werther").

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Features of the short story:

  • a short epic piece, the action of which is focused around the selected event,
  • the end of the piece includes a punch line,
  • the structure is expressive, dramatized,
  • the piece is limited in time and space,
  • it is easy to indicate the climax of the short story,
  • the authors use: contrast, gradations, repetition (eg in "Katarynka", when Mr. Tomasz is talking to the watchman), time inversion.

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Positivist short story:

  • is focused on current events (it is not without reason that the short stories are a kind of document of the epoch),
  • the authors had a sense of intervention (they wrote about important problems of the people, e.g. poverty and the difficult situation of children),
  • the hero of the short story in positivism is the man of the people,
  • the peasant world is presented as the world of wronged people,
  • in the novellas of positivist writers, the peasant is distinguished by high ethical value and heroism, he is hardworking and stubbornly pursues his goals,
  • the setting is often set in the city,
  • the subject of children is popular (it is related to, among others, pedagogical interests of the epoch, as in the case of the Enlightenment),
  • patriotic issues appear.
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