The Foreword states that the next few stories are taken directly from Pechorin's journal. The Foreword is also the last time the unnamed narrator appears in the novel. The unnamed narrator explains his reasons for publishing contents from Pechorin's personal documents and informs readers that he has kept everything intact except names. He expresses his admiration for Pechorin's brutal honesty in these documents. He believes that this honesty is beneficial for not only society, but for the people who knew Pechorin. The unnamed narrator also informs readers that Pechorin died on his way back from Persia and that he is only publishing information that pertains to Pechorin's time in the Caucasus. He will publish the rest of Pechorin's personal documents at an unknown time in the future.
This is the first story told from Pechorin's perspective. Pechorin recounts his time in Taman, a coastal village in the Caucasus. After a long journey, Pechorin endeavors to find shelter in Taman. Everywhere is booked, and he takes his frustrations out on his guide, a Cossack corporal. Pechorin shouts at him and asks to be taken anywhere. The corporal leads Pechorin through seedy parts of the town. They finally stop at a small hut on the edge of a cliff.
A blind boy is the only person present to greet them. Pechorin, being prejudiced towards disabled people, immediately finds the blind boy suspicious. When Pechorin enters his abode, he feels even more alarmed. The place has a broken window and no furniture. Finding his abode and the blind boy suspicious, Pechorin does not go to sleep even though his Cossack companion is fast asleep. Pechorin's suspicions pay off. In the middle of the night, Pechorin sees a shadow through his window. He investigates the shadow and realizes that the shadow is the blind boy.
Pechorin allows his curiosity to get the best of him and follows the young boy. Pechorin is immediately amazed by the blind boy's ability to navigate the dangerous terrain to the beach, and his suspicions towards the young boy grow even more. At the beach, Pechorin hears the blind boy conversing with a young woman. He hears part of their conversation. They are waiting for someone.
A mysterious boat soon surfaces. A mysterious figure, to which the woman and the blind boy refer as ‘Yanko’, comes on shore. Yanko, the blind boy, and the young woman take materials off of the boat. Pechorin is not able to identify the materials, but sees that they are heavy. Pechorin "can't think why the boat hadn't sunk" (61).
The next day, Pechorin confronts the blind boy and the master of the hut, who is now present. The master of the hut, an old woman, pretends to be deaf. The blind boy pretends to be ignorant. This frustrates Pechorin. He starts yelling at the boy. The old woman gives up her act and chastises Pechorin for his behavior.
After this encounter, Pechorin hears singing. The sound comes from the young woman who he had seen on the beach the night before. She is seated on the roof of the hut. She is a sprightly figure. She jumps all over the place. He thinks of her as a "mermaid" and "my undine" and tries to converse with her, but her responses give him little to no information (63). He tells her that he saw what transpired the night before. She is unfazed by it. She tells him that he might have seen what transpired, but he has no idea what it all means. Seeing how unfazed she is by his admission, Pechorin threatens to go to the authority. The young woman continues singing and making sprightly movements after Pechorin threatens her.
Later in the day, the young woman approaches Pechorin. She kisses him and tells him to meet her on the beach in the middle of the night. Pechorin, a few hours later, goes out to meet her, but not before warning his Cossack companion to come to his aid if a pistol is heard. The companion agrees to be on the alert. When Pechorin encounters the young woman on the shore, she entices him onto a boat. They go far out to sea. There, she tells him that she loves him, kisses him again, and then attempts to throw him overboard. Pechorin struggles, but eventually throws the young woman into the water.
Pechorin sees the young woman again. As he makes his "way back to the hut along the shore," he sees a figure where the blind boy had ventured the night before (67). Pechorin realizes quickly that it is the young woman. He is somewhat relieved that she survived and creeps into the area to spy on her. He witnesses the young woman and Yanko escaping. They leave behind the old woman and the blind boy. The blind boy is devastated. "He cried and cried" (69).
Pechorin feels sad that he caused chaos in these smugglers' lives. He does not report any of the incidents to the authorities because he does not want to reveal to them that a young woman and a blind boy had outsmarted him. The blind boy had apparently made away with some of Pechorin's possessions. The Cossack companion had been utterly useless. Pechorin leaves Taman the next morning.
In this story, Pechorin echoes similar prejudices towards the natives as the unnamed narrator and Maxim Maximych. Pechorin portrays his Cossack companion as a useless coward. Pechorin states that the Cossack corporal continuously begs him to leave. Pechorin also notes how the Cossack corporal fails him twice. First, the corporal sleeps through the first night, leaving Pechorin to investigate the blind boy on his own. Then, the corporal falls asleep again when he is supposed to be listening for any distress call from Pechorin.
In this story, the setting is as much a character as Pechorin, the blind boy, and the young woman. The author gives the setting human qualities. "Dark blue waves [are heard] splashing and murmuring unceasingly below," and "the moonlight shining through the window played on the mud floor of the hut" (57) (59). Pechorin reacts to the setting as if he is reacting to a character. He finds the setting as suspicious as the blind boy. It is both the setting and the blind boy that keep Pechorin awake.
This short story is full of ironies. A blind boy and a young woman outsmart Pechorin, a master manipulator and mind reader. His manipulative tactics do not work on them. He also has a hard time accessing their minds. The blind boy continues to feign ignorance even after Pechorin verbally and physically assaults him, and Pechorin deduces no valuable information from the young woman despite his clever questions. Moreover, the young woman, who is not much of a beauty, seduces Pechorin, the great womanizer. Pechorin does not have as much control in this section as he does in other sections of the novel.
"Taman" is in many ways an inversion of the short story, "Bela." The blind boy in "Taman" and Azamat in "Bela" are around the same age, and they are both thieves; however, the blind boy gets left behind while Azamat leaves others behind. The blind boy is loyal to his clan while Azamat is loyal only to his desires. Because of the blind boy's loyalty to his clan and the Cossack corporal's uselessness, Pechorin has no allies in "Taman" whereas he had plenty of allies in "Bela." The Cossack corporal, whose role in "Taman" is reminiscent of the role Maxim Maximych plays in "Bela," has features that oppose Maxim Maximych's traits. Maxim Maximych is brave and useful to Pechorin while the corporal is cowardly, passive, and useless to Pechorin.
Furthermore, in the short story, "Bela," Bela is admired, manipulated, seduced, and then discarded. She exercises no control over her life. The young woman in "Taman," in contrast is very active. She does the actions. She manipulates, seduces, and tries to discard Pechorin into the sea. Also, the young woman lives while Bela does not. The young woman survives after Pechorin throws her overboard, and she gets to escape with Yanko. Characters in "Bela" all have counterparts in "Taman." The old chief mirrors the old woman who owns the hut. Yanko can be seen as Kazbich's counterpart. Unlike Kazbich, he gets the girl in the end.