The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita Summary and Analysis of Book One - Chapters 7-9


Chapter 7: "The Sinister Apartment"

Stepan Bogdanovich Likhodyev, or Styopa, wakes from a drunken night on the town to discover a man seated in his room. The stranger provides him with food, and they both have a drink. Styopa remembers that he had spent the previous night at the summer home of the writer Khustov, but cannot remember who the stranger is.

The stranger explains that he is a professor of black magic, and that Styopa agreed to sign his variety show for seven performances and to advance him a payment of 35,000 roubles. Styopa has no memory this interaction, and then this man, whom the reader knows to be Woland, produces a copy of contract, on which Styopa sees his own characteristic signature. He calls for his housekeeper Grunya, and Woland explains that he sent her off on some errands.

Bewildered, he finds that his roommate Berlioz’s study has been sealed off. He calls his boss, the Variety theater's financial manager Grigory Danilovich Rimsky, and confirms that he signed the contract with Woland. Suddenly, a tall man with a pince-nez and an enormous black cat appear in his flat. It is Koroviev and the tom that Ivan saw earlier. Styopa begins to suspect he is going mad. Woland says Grunya has been sent to Voronezh on vacation.

The threesome tells him that there is no longer room for him in his apartment, and that it will be their space. They chide him for acting in a greedy and underhanded manner, and a fourth man, Azazello joins their company. The cat tells Styopa to “Scat!”, and he falls and hits his head. When he awakes, he is sitting on a jetty in Yalta, many miles away from Moscow.

Chapter 8: "Duel Between the Professor and the Poet"

Just as Styopa loses consciousness in Yalta, Homeless awakens in the hospital. He is reminded of his plight when the nurse attending him mentions foreign tourists, but decides not to tell her about Pontius Pilate. She gives him a bath. As he is led down a hallway, he considers his options, and decides to "withdraw into proud silence." However, he is subjected to many questions and must answer them, then undergo a physical examination.

He eats breakfast and Doctor Stravinsky enters, reminding Ivan of Pontius Pilate in his "air of solemnity" and in that he speaks Latin. He explains the story of Pontius Pilate to Doctor Stravinsky, and tells him all about the mysterious stranger. Doctor Stravinsky humors him, asking him relevant questions, and says he will let Ivan leave if he will simple tell him "I am normal." But as soon as Ivan does so, the Doctor reiterates what happened the previous day, and Ivan must logically conclude that he is, in fact, not normal, and that if he leaves, he will return soon. Ivan decides to stay in the hospital.

Chapter 9: "Koroviev's Antics"

Nikanor Ivanovich Bosoy is the house chairman of No. 302-b Sadovaya Street, where Berlioz lived. He has been dealing with people who claim to have the rights to Berlioz's vacated rooms, and is thoroughly exhausted. He goes to apartment 50, and is surprised to find not Grunya, but Koroviev. He questions Koroviev, saying that nobody is allowed on the premises, and Koroviev says he is the interpreter of "the foreign gentleman who resides in this apartment." Koroviev says that Stepan Bogdanovich Likhodeyev had invited Woland to stay there for a week or so, and that now Likhodeyev is taking a trip to Yalta. In fact, there is a letter in Nikanor Ivanovich's briefcase from Styopa stating exactly that.

With Koroviev's encouragement, Nikanor Ivanovich calls the Intourist Office to get clearance for the foreigner to reside in the vacated apartment 50 for a week, at an exorbitant price, since Koroviev claims Woland is a millionaire. Koroviev continues to encourage greed in the chairman, offering him tickets to the theater and stuffing a bundle of money into his hand.

As soon as he leaves the apartment, a low voice, which the reader can assume belongs to Woland, instructs Koroviev to see to it that Nikanor Ivanovich does not come back. So Koroviev reports Nikanor Ivanovich for speculating in foreign exchange, and having four hundred dollars in the ventilator flue of his toilet. In fact, Nikanor Ivanovich is stuffing the wad of bills into the ventilator flue, and five minutes later his dinner with his wife, Pelageya Antonovna, is interrupted by two citizens searching for the hidden money. Of course, they find it in the ventilator flue.

He tries to deny that the money is his, and even pulls out his briefcase to show the citizens the letter from Styopa, but it has disappeared. He is apprehended, and faints. Meanwhile, Timofey Kondratievich Kvastsoy, a neighbor, is listening at the door. He reports what has happened to the other tenants, "fairly gulping with pleasure" about how Nikanor Ivanovich got what was coming to him. He is beckoned out of the kitchen into the hallway, and disappears with the unknown citizen who beckoned him.


When Styopa asks Woland his name, he has difficulty speaking, since "at every word, somebody stuck a needle into his brain, causing him infernal pain." It is important to note that the narrator describes this action as being caused by somebody (obviously Woland himself), and the use of the word "infernal" suggests and association with the devil. When Nikanor Ivanovich accepts the bundle of money from Koroviev, "a little needle seemed to prick the chairman somewhere deep down in his heart." The same figurative language was used to describe the feeling Berlioz had in his heart before meeting Woland. It seems this is an effect of interaction with the devil.

The narrator continues to use direct address, and to assume that the readers of the novel are themselves Russian citizens. He identifies himself as a person with an opinion, saying, "Between us, the article was idiotic..." And he refers to the readers as "dear citizens," asking, "What was happening to his memory, dear citizens, huh?" of Styopa.

Language of "the devil" continues to outline the action of these chapters. In Chapter 8, Ivan says of Annushka, "The devil knows who she is." That is true, since the devil himself predicted her involvement in Berlioz's death. In Chapter 9, Koroviev says of Styopa's whereabouts, "Oh, he is way out by now! The devil knows how far he is!" which is, in fact, true, since it was the devil who sent Styopa to Yalta. He also describes Woland as being "cranky as the devil."

The conversation between Ivan and Doctor Stravinsky is described in the title of Chapter 8 as a "duel," and it certainly is, though humorous. Once Ivan tells the doctor that he is normal and therefore should be released, the doctor convinces him that if he is, in fact, normal, he should be able to understand that if he is released, his intended actions will certainly land him right back in the hospital. The conversation ends with a type of hypnosis, in which the doctor says, "You shall be helped here... do you hear me?... You shall be helped here... you shall be relieved... it is quiet here, everything is peaceful... you shall be helped here..." and Ivan is convinced.

The Master and Margarita was unfinished when Bulkagov died, and in this last revision, there are some loose ends. Ginsburg points this out in her introduction, saying that "the novel is thus still, in a sense, a work in progress, with some threads and details not yet completely resolved, it stands, both thematically and stylistically, as a masterpiece of extraordinary richness and complexity." One of them is Timofey Kondratievich Kvastsoy, the neighbor who listens to the apprehension of Nikanor Ivanovich through the door. He seems to be wrapped up in the mischief that occurs somehow, but never again is mentioned.