The scene of action in the Gogol’s narrative Dead Souls takes place in a small town, which Gogol call NN. Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov visits the town. He is a person, who intends to get the dead souls of the serfs in the local landowners. Chichikov breaks the placid urban life by his appearance there.
Chichikov arrives to the town accompanied by his servants. He settles in an ordinary hotel. During the dinner, Chichikov inquires the pub keeper for everything that happens in NN. He finds out who are the most influential officials and famous landowners. He personally gets acquainted with a lot of landowners at the governor’s reception. The landowners, Sobakevich and Manilov, invite him for a call. Chichikov attends a vice-governor, a procurator and a tax farmer for several days. He established a good reputation in the town.
Chichikov has decided to leave the town for the Manilov’s possessions. This village is really very boring. The landowner was very incomprehensible person. Manilov was often in his dreams. The landowner was very surprised with Chichikov’s suggestion to sell him dead peasants’ souls. To conclude a treaty they decided at meeting in the town. Chichikov left, but Manilov was pondering on this proposition for a long period of time.
It was a foul weather on the Chichikov’s way to Sobakevich. His light carriage went astray, so it was decided to stay over in the first country farmstead. It turned out, that this house was a property of the landowner, Korobochka. She was an efficient hostess. The dwellers’ prosperity was keeping everywhere in the house. Korobochka took a suggestion of dead souls selling with astonishment. But then, she began to consider them as goods and she was afraid to set too low price and advised Chichikov to buy something else. They came to an agreement, and Chichikov, himself, hurried to escape the difficult landlady’s character.
To continue a way, Chichikov decided to visit the pub keeper. There he met one more landowner, Nozdryov. His frankness and friendliness disposed to him at once. Nozdryov was a gambler. He didn’t play honest, that’s why he often took parts in scuffles. Nozdryov didn’t appreciate the suggestion about the dead souls selling. The landowner offered to play draughts for the souls. The game almost ended with the fight. Chichikov hurried to go out. The character regretted that he had trusted such kind of the person as Nozdryov was.
Chichikov finally visits Sobakevich. Sobakevich was a kind of a big and solid man. The suggestion of dead souls selling he took seriously and he even started to haggle. The collocutors decided to make an agreement as soon as possible in the town.
The next point of Chichikov’s trip became a village, which belonged to Plyushkin. The estate had an awful appearance and there was desolation everywhere. The landowner, himself, came to the peak of avarice. He lived along and looked miserably. He sold the dead souls with pleasure, thinking, that Chichikov was a fool. Pavel Ivanovich hurried to the hotel with a feeling of relief.
At the next day, Chichikov drew the agreements with Sobakevich and Plyushkin. He was in a wonderful mood. At the same time, the news about Chichikov’s purchasing spread over the whole town. Everybody wondered at his wealth, but nobody knew which souls he really bought. Chichikov became a welcome visitor at the local parties and balls. But Nozdryov opened Chichikov’s secret, screaming about the dead souls at the ball.
The landowner, Korobochka, who came to the town, proved the dead souls purchasing too. The incredible talks about the Chichikov’s intention to steal the governor’s daughter started to spread in the town. So, he was prohibited to enter the governor’s house. Nobody of dwellers could exactly answer who Chichikov was. It was decided to meet at the head of town police for the clarification of Chichikov’s figure.
They couldn’t come to a consensus during the discussions of Chichikov. When Chichikov decided to make visits, he understood that everybody avoided him, moreover it was forbidden to enter the governor’s house. Also he found out, that he was under the suspicion for producing the forged bonds and intention to steal the governor’s daughter. Chichikov hurried to leave the town. In the end of the first volume, the author tells who Chichikov was and what his life had been before he found himself in NN.