A Hero of Our Time

A Hero of Our Time Summary and Analysis of Maxim Maximych

Maxim Maximych

Maxim Maximych and the unnamed narrator meet again. They share a room together, and Maxim Maximych makes the unnamed narrator, a sparse, but pleasant meal. After dinner, the two men sit in silence for a long time, finding nothing to discuss. In the silence, the unnamed narrator admires the landscape outside. He gives the mountains a "mental farewell" (44).

The silence is eventually interrupted by the sound of a carriage. A well-dressed servant accompanies the magnificent carriage. He is rude, but that does not deter Maxim Maximych from communicating with him. After a few questions, Maxim Maximych discovers that Pechorin is the servant's master. Maxim Maximych is overwhelmed with joy at this finding and urges the servant to inform Pechorin of his presence. The servant reluctantly accepts the task.

Maxim Maximych waits on the bench by the gate for the servant to come back with Pechorin. He stays outside for a long time, but no one comes. The old officer eventually gives up and comes inside to the room that he shares with the unnamed narrator. He tries to hide his hurt from the unnamed narrator, but his restlessness gives his feelings away. He "paced up and down the room, tinkered with the stove, and when he finally did go to bed, he coughed, spat and tossed and turned for a long time" (47).

The next day, the unnamed narrator sees the servant and Pechorin and immediately sends someone to fetch Maxim Maximych. As the unnamed narrator waits for Maxim Maximych, he observes Pechorin from a distance and notes, "Though his hair was fair, his mustache and eyebrows were black. In a man this is as sure a sign of breeding as a black mane and tail are in a white horse" (48). The unnamed narrator jumps out of his thoughts when he sees that Pechorin is about to leave. He informs Pechorin that an old acquaintance, Maxim Maximych, is on the way. Maxim Maximych is seen running towards Pechorin soon after.

Maxim Maximych is immediately disappointed by his interaction with Pechorin. Pechorin denies him an embrace and refuses pleas to dine together. Pechorin also rejects personal documents that Maxim Maximych held for him and informs Maxim Maximych that he is on his way to Persia. Before Maxim Maximych asks him when he plans to come back, Pechorin's carriage is already a great distance away. Pechorin hears Maxim Maximych's last question, nevertheless, and answers it with a hand gesture that signals that he plans to never come back to the Caucasus.

The encounter devastates Maxim Maximych. The unnamed narrator sees "tears [well] in his eyes" (52). Maxim Maximych oscillates between sadness and anger. When the unnamed narrator asks him about the documents that Pechorin refused to take, he throws the documents on the floor. The unnamed narrator takes the documents before Maxim Maximych has a change of mind.

The unnamed narrator and Maxim Maximych part for good. Maxim Maximych has to stay behind to see the commandant, a duty he neglected in order to reach Pechorin in time. The unnamed narrator and Maxim Maximych part on less than agreeable terms. Maxim Maximych takes his disappointment not only on the documents, but also on the unnamed narrator. He accuses the unnamed narrator of being exactly like Pechorin when it comes to friendship. Maxim Maximych apologizes immediately, but the mood is already set.


This section has three themes: reunion, friendship, and abandonment. Reunions do not end well in any of the short stories in this novel. In this section, Maxim Maximych has two reunions, and they both disappoint him. His reunion with the unnamed narrator is underwhelming. After a very modest dinner, they sit in silence, finding nothing to discuss. Moreover, they do not part amicably. Maxim Maximych gets carried away with his emotions and insults the unnamed narrator. Maxim Maximych's reunion with Pechorin, however, is the bigger disappointment. Pechorin greets Maxim Maximych coldly and formally, and, before Maxim Maximych can ask his last question, Pechorin's carriage is already far away.

In this section, friendship goes hand in hand with reunion. Pechorin does not reciprocate others' attachment to him. Maxim Maximych believes that he and Pechorin are close friends, yet Pechorin treats him like a stranger when they meet again. Pechorin treats Maxim Maximych similarly to Bela. Maxim Maximych, who witnesses Pechorin's coldness towards Bela in the short story, "Bela," faces its full wrath in this short story.

Furthermore, Pechorin's actions in this section not only harm his friendship with Maxim Maximych, but they also impact Maxim Maximych's relationship with the unnamed narrator. After Pechorin's actions, Maxim Maximych questions his friendship with the unnamed narrator. He clumps Pechorin and the unnamed narrator together and tells the unnamed narrator that "as long a you're down here, with Circassian bullets flying round, you put up with fellows like me, but then you meet us afterwards and won't as much offer your hand" (53). Although Maxim Maximych immediately renounces his words, the damage is done. Maxim Maximych and the unnamed narrator do not part on the best of terms. They have a very lukewarm goodbye.

Unfortunately for Maxim Maximych, his hasty words are not without truths. After re-evaluating a few statements made by the unnamed narrator, similarities between Maxim Maximych's relationship with Pechorin and Maxim Maximych's relationship with the unnamed narrator become very apparent. When the unnamed narrator reunites with Maxim Maximych, he tells the reader in regards to Maxim Maximych, "What was there to talk about? He had already told me all there was of interest about himself" (44). Throughout both short stories, "Bela" and "Maxim Maximych," the unnamed narrator questions Maxim Maximych's usefulness. There are many points where he seems ready to discard Maxim Maximych.

Abandonment pervades this short story. Maxim Maximych becomes a tempestuous child when Pechorin leaves him behind. Maxim Maximych is essentially abandoned twice – Pechorin abandons him first, the unnamed narrator does so thereafter. The unnamed narrator does not wait for Maxim Maximych to finish a government duty. He leaves without the old officer. Maxim Maximych's response to Pechorin's abrupt departure mirrors many scenes from the novel's other short stories. Kazbich, the fearsome tribesman in "Bela," also cries like a child when he is unable to catch up to the thief who steals his horse. In "Taman," a blind boy cries when his comrades abandon him. In "Princess Mary," Pechorin also has his own vulnerable moment when he cannot catch up to Vera and her husband.