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Denis, the central character to the story, is a simple, poor peasant, who is brought in front of the magistrate to answer for crime he has committed. Denis was caught unscrewing a nut on a railway. In the hearing he admits to the crime and says that for peasants in his village it is customary to unscrew this nuts and then use them as weights for fishing. During the questioning, Denis is constantly accused of lying, because his answers are so banal, that the magistrate feels like he is being made fun of. Eventually, to his surprise Denis is sentenced to imprisonment. He does not understand this decision, because from his point of view what he did was an absolutely normal thing to do.
Ivan Semyonovich Akinfov:
Ivan is a railway watchman who catches Denis unscrewing the nut and reports him.
The magistrate questions Denis Grigoryev, because he was reported to have unscrewed a nut on a railway and thus endangered the railway transport. The magistrate feels frustrated with Denis's answers, because he has the impression Denis is lying and making fun of him. At the end, he sentences Denis to imprisonment.
Mitrofan is a man, who lives in Denis's village and makes nets for fishing and sells them to gentry. For his work he requires a lot of railway nut
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