The Overcoat

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Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin Character Analysis

A low-level official clerk in an unknown department in the Russian government. Akaky Akakievich is a short man with an “unmemorable” appearance. He is somewhat educated, and not at the lowest rank of bureaucracy, but he is still very poor. Akaky lives an extremely mundane life: both in and out of his department, he spends all of his time diligently copying documents. While his fellow officials are out socializing, Akaky prefers to spend his evening hours at home, finding contentment in his repetitive labor. Gogol’s story revolves around Akaky’s struggle to contend with St. Petersburg’s bitter cold, which forces him to purchase a new overcoat—a mission that endows Akaky’s existence with greater meaning.

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin Quotes in The Overcoat

The The Overcoat quotes below are all either spoken by Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin or refer to Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Bureaucracy and Selfhood Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of The Overcoat published in 2006.
The Overcoat Quotes

In one of our government departments…but perhaps I had better not say exactly which one. For no one’s more touchy than people in government departments, regiments, chancelleries or, in short, any kind of official body. Nowadays every private citizen thinks the whole of society is insulted when he himself is.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator opens the story by referring to an anonymous government department, refusing to specify which one on the grounds that it might cause offence. The narrator laments the fact that nowadays people tend to think that "the whole of society is insulted" when they are insulted as individuals––the reverse of "taking it personally." This opening paragraph establishes the absurdist, comic tone of the story, while grounding it in serious criticism of Russian society. By listing the names of different bureaucratic institutions––"government departments, regiments, chancelleries, or, in short, any kind of official body"––the narrator illustrates the vast and complex expanse of these institutions within the Russian world. 

This passage also demonstrates the way in which people's individual identities are collapsed into the bureaucratic systems in which they work. The narrator's comment about citizens taking personal criticism as an insult to "the whole of society" is somewhat counterintuitive; surely it is more usual for this problem to work the other way around, where general comments are taken personally. However, in a culture in which people lose their sense of self through mindless, tedious bureaucratic work, perhaps it makes sense that this perverse paranoia emerges.

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As for his rank in the civil service…he belonged to the species known as eternal titular counsellor, for far too long now, as we all know, mocked and jeered by certain writers with the very commendable habit of attacking those who are in no position to retaliate. His surname was Bashmachkin, which all too plainly was at some time derived from bashmak.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator has introduced Akaky Akakievich, the civil servant around which the story revolves, and described him as short, balding, and unattractive. The narrator notes that Akaky is a not particularly high-ranking official, and occupies a role people jokingly refer to as "eternal titular counsellor," in reference to the bland, monotonous nature of government bureaucracy and the way that people who have this particular role never seem to "move up" or "get ahead." While the narrator refers disapprovingly of the "certain writers" who use the joke to make fun of people "who are in no position to retaliate," this is ironic, as the narrator himself makes use of the joke to describe Akaky. This irony establishes the narrator's ambivalent treatment of Akaky, which combines mockery and sympathy.

The fact that Akaky's surname, Bashmachkin, is derived from the word "bashmak," meaning shoe, further conveys that Akaky is a comically ignoble character, who is metaphorically "trodden on" by other people and by the structure of the society in which he lives.  

The child was christened and during the ceremony he burst into tears and made such a face it was plain that he knew there and then that he was fated to be a titular counsellor. So, that’s how it all came about. The reason for all this narrative is to enable our reader to judge for himself that the whole train of events was absolutely predetermined and that for Akaky to have any other name was quite impossible.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator has explained how Akaky Akakievich came to have such an absurd and redundant name: although his godparents suggested many different names, Akaky's mother rejected them all, eventually deciding to simply give Akaky the same name as his father (who was also a government official). The narrator jokes that, at his christening ceremony, Akaky made a face because "he knew then and there that he was fated to be a titular counsellor," and stresses the inevitability of both Akaky's repetitive, unappealing name, and the corresponding monotony of his life. This part of the story highlights the rigidity of Russian society. Akaky's fate is determined at birth, and he is destined to perform the same role and even take on the same identity as his father. 

This passage can also be read as a comic reversal of the way in which a conventional story––such as a fairy tale––might begin with a description of the hero's auspicious, noble origins. Where we might ordinarily describe someone as "destined for great things," the narrator implies the opposite is true of Akaky: he is destined for boring, mundane, and unfortunate things. By using the words "absolutely predetermined" and "impossible," the narrator emphasizes the illogical nature of the rigid hierarchical structure of Russian society. There is no real reason why Akaky's fate was so inescapably predestined, but everyone still sees to accept it as unquestionable. 

No matter how many directors and principals came and went, he was always to be seen in precisely the same place, sitting in exactly the same position, doing exactly the same work—just routine copying, pure and simple. Subsequently everyone came to believe that he had come into this world already equipped for his job, complete with uniform and bald patch.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

Having described Akaky's birth and how he came to have his name, the narrator moves on to describe his career as a civil servant. The narrator has noted that no one remembers how Akaky came to be given his particular role in the anonymous government department where he works, but says it is as if "he had come into this world already equipped for his job." This passage employs a particular combination of humor, absurdity, and dull realism to describe Akaky's life and the world in which he lives. The comment that Akaky was born ready for his job, "complete with uniform and bald patch," is very humorous, while simultaneously illustrating the dreary, wearying nature of Russian government bureaucracy. 

The description of Akaky's job also emphasizes the repetitive monotony of his life. Even as other things in his office change, Akaky remains "sitting in exactly the same position, doing exactly the same work"––an image that brings to mind a robot more than a person. Indeed, the fact that Akaky's job is limited to copying and never producing anything himself further confirms the mechanical character of his life and role at the government department. In this sense Akaky is a strange, unnerving character, as he does not seem to possess the varied moods, opinions, and vitality we tend to expect of people.

And for a long time afterwards, even during his gayest moments, he would see that stooping figure with a bald patch in front, muttering pathetically: “Leave me alone, why do you have to torment me?” And in these piercing words he could hear the sound of others: “I am your brother.” The poor young man would bury his face in his hands and many times later in life shuddered at the thought of how brutal men could be and how the most refined manners and breeding often concealed the most savage coarseness, even, dear God, in someone universally recognized for his honesty and uprightness...

Related Characters: Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin (speaker), The Narrator (speaker), The Young Official
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator has described the way in which Akaky is constantly bullied by the other clerks at his office, most of whom are younger than him. Akaky usually ignores them and never stands up for himself, only occasionally begging them to leave him alone. Over time, only one clerk is moved to feel sympathy for Akaky, and many years later comes to be haunted by his coworkers' merciless taunting, believing it to show the cruelty of humanity. This passage reveals that, for all its comic levity, there is a dark, morally urgent exploration at the heart of the story. Despite being completely harmless and inoffensive, Akaky is ruthlessly taunted by his coworkers, who seem to target him precisely because of his weakness. 

The fact that the Young Official is the only character who pities Akaky further emphasizes that people tend to have a highly limited capacity for compassion. Meanwhile, the reader is forced to reckon with his or her own ethical position, as Akaky is portrayed in such an unappealing, comic light. By laughing at Akaky's strange manner and unfortunate life, is the reader participating in the same cruel behavior as the clerks who bully him? 

One would be hard put to find a man anywhere who so lived for his work. To say he worked with zeal would be an understatement: no, he worked with love. In that copying of his he glimpsed a whole varied and pleasant world of his own… Apart from this copying nothing else existed as far as he was concerned.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator has explained that, despite his commitment to this job, Akaky has never been promoted; during the one instance in which he was considered for a promotion, his supervisor asked him to make a minor adjustment to a document and Akaky, flummoxed, asked to be given something to copy instead. It is completely beyond Akaky's ability to do anything even slightly creative, though it's never clear if that is a result of his own nature or because the "inevitability" of his boring life in the bureaucracy has drained any creativity out of him.

In this passage, the narrator also describes Akaky's exceptional dedication to the his work, saying that he "worked with love" and that "nothing else existed" to him. Framing Akaky's relationship to his boring, inconsequential job in such romantic terms is humorous, while drawing out significant questions about the nature of work, passion, and happiness.

The narrator never reveals precisely why Akaky so devotes himself to his boring and monotonous job, and this increases the strange mystery of his character. His love for his dull work seems absurd and laughable, and it is certainly described by the narrator in comic terms. And yet, the story also seems to question why it is so absurd. Passion and enjoyment, after all, are often thought of as rather arbitrary and subjective, so why should anyone laugh at someone engaged in such a passion, even if it is copying. Furthermore, Akaky's dedication at work is clearly not motivated by the desire for more money or power, as he deliberately avoids getting a promotion. With this in mind, shouldn't the love and contentment he finds in his work be seen as noble, admirable, and even enviable rather than something to be mocked? 

“I'm afraid it can't be done, sir,” replied Petrovich firmly. “It's too far gone. You'd be better off if you cut it up for the winter and made some leggings with it, because socks aren't any good in the really cold weather. The Germans invented them as they thought they could make money out of them.” (Petrovich liked to have a dig at Germans.) “As for the coat, you'll have to have a new one, sir.”
The word “new” made Akaky's eyes cloud over and everything in the room began to swim round. All he could see clearly was the pasted-over face of the general on Petrovich's snuff-box.

Related Characters: Petrovich (speaker), The Narrator (speaker), Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin
Related Symbols: The Overcoat
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:

Akaky has taken his old, tattered overcoat to Petrovich, the alcoholic tailor. Noticing that Petrovich is sober instead of drunk as usual, Akaky grows nervous; he stares at the image of a general on Petrovich's snuffbox, over which Petrovich has stuck a square piece of paper. Akaky's strong reaction to Petrovich's insistence that the coat cannot be mended further emphasizes Akaky's weak, pathetic character. Rather than face Petrovich directly, Akaky chooses to stare at the face of the general, a symbol of authority. On the other hand, Akaky's despair at the news about his coat is also somewhat understandable, considering he does not have enough money for a new coat, yet needs one to survive the cold. 

Frankly, Akaky Akakievich found these privations quite a burden to begin with, but after a while he got used to them. He even trained himself to go without any food at all in the evenings, for his nourishment was spiritual, his thoughts always full of that overcoat which one day was to be his. From that time onwards his whole life seemed to have become richer, as though he had married and another human being was by his side. It was as if he was not alone at all but had some pleasant companion who had agreed to tread life's path together with him; and this companion was none other than the overcoat with its thick cotton-wool padding and strong lining, made to last a lifetime. He livened up and, like a man who has set himself a goal, became more determined.

Related Characters: Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin
Related Symbols: The Overcoat
Page Number: 153-154
Explanation and Analysis:

Having realized he has no choice but to try to gather enough money for a new coat, Akaky decides he must forego many of the items he usually spends money on, including tea, candles, and even food. While at first this decision feels like "quite a burden," eventually Akaky finds that it gives him a new sense of purpose, "as though he had married and another human being was by his side." This newfound vitality suggests that Akaky's life, without his even realizing it, previously lacked a sense of meaning; while he derives pleasure and satisfaction from his civil service work, the endless monotony of copying does not provide the same sense of direction and momentum as the goal of buying a new coat. 

This passage provides compelling evidence for the interpretation that the overcoat takes on symbolic sexual significance within the story. Akaky is presented as being in a kind of romantic haze, adopting the behaviors (loss of appetite, obsessive thoughts, increased vigor) that we usually associate with being in love. Akaky's fantasies about the coat, "with its thick cotton-wool padding and strong lining," can be read as an example of commodity fetishism, in which Akaky imbues the object of the overcoat with value disproportionate to its material properties. Like a newlywed who dreams he will live "happily ever after," Akaky fixates on the robust nature of the coat, which is "made to last a lifetime." 

It was...precisely which day it is difficult to say, but without any doubt it was the most triumphant day in Akaky Akakievich's whole life when Petrovich at last delivered the overcoat… Petrovich delivered the overcoat in person—just as a good tailor should. Akaky Akakievich had never seen him looking so solemn before. He seemed to know full well that his was no mean achievement, and that he had suddenly shown by his own work the gulf separating tailors who only relined or patched up overcoats from those who make new ones, right from the beginning.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin
Related Symbols: The Overcoat
Page Number: 155
Explanation and Analysis:

Having spent months living frugally and saving money, Akaky is surprised by the director of his department giving him a bonus, and is eventually able to pay Petrovich to make the new overcoat. They buy materials together, and when the coat is finished, Petrovich delivers it to its new owner in person. The narrator describes this moment as "the most triumphant day in Akaky Akakievich's whole life," a superlative that is simultaneously comically absurd and strangely moving. While both Akaky and Petrovich are flawed and not particularly likeable, the fact that through their combined efforts they create something exceptional provides a note of optimism within the story.

On the other hand, this exaggerated sense of triumph in the midst of an otherwise bleak, depressing narrative suggests that this moment of good fortune may turn out to be too good to be true. The fact that Akaky and Petrovich are portrayed as unfortunate characters tinges their achievement with the anticipation of tragedy, and signals that it is doomed to eventually go wrong. 

At first Akaky Akakievich had to pass through some badly lit, deserted streets, but the nearer he got to the civil servant's flat the more lively and crowded they became, and the brighter the lamps shone. More and more people dashed by and he began to meet beautifully dressed ladies, and men with beaver collars. Here there were not so many cheap cabmen with their wooden basketwork sleighs studded with gilt nails. Instead, there were dashing coachmen with elegant cabs, wearing crimson velvet caps, their sleighs lacquered and covered with bearskins. Carriages with draped boxes simply flew down the streets with their wheels screeching over the snow.
Akaky Akakievich surveyed this scene as though he had never witnessed anything like it in his life. For some years now he had not ventured out at all in the evenings.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin
Related Symbols: The Overcoat
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

Akaky's coworkers have reacted in a comically favorable way to his new overcoat, congratulating him and insisting that they must celebrate his new possession. A high-ranking official has offered to host a party at his home, which is in a fancy neighborhood; as Akaky approaches the official's apartment, he describes the beautiful dress of the people he sees around him. This passage emphasizes the vast difference the coat has made to Akaky's existence; whereas previously his life was dreary and dull, it is now populated by elegant clothes, fast carriages, and street lamps that glow brighter than in other parts of the city.

It is almost as if Akaky's new overcoat has magically transported him into a new world of beautiful objects. The scene has an unreal quality, exaggerated in the same way as Petrovich's solemnity and the over-the-top enthusiasm of Akaky's colleagues. Akaky himself is like a character in a fairy tale who has arrived in a world with which he has no familiarity. 

Although he was somewhat overwhelmed by this reception, since he was a rather simple-minded and ingenuous person, he could not help feeling glad at the praises showered on his overcoat. And then, it goes without saying, they abandoned him, overcoat included, and turned their attention to the customary whist tables. All the noise and conversation and crowds of people—this was a completely new world for Akaky Akakievich. He simply did not know what to do, where to put his hands or feet or any other part of himself.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin
Related Symbols: The Overcoat
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

Akaky has arrived at the party and feels awkward, as he is unused to being in this kind of social situation. However, his coworkers have acted in a friendly manner, continuing to heap praises on his coat, and Akaky relaxes. Yet eventually the other guests turn their attention away from him, and Akaky's awkwardness returns. To some degree, this part of the story may elicit further sympathy for Akaky, as it is not uncommon for people to feel awkwardness at social gatherings. On the other hand, Akaky is unusually bad at handling such situations, confirming the idea that he is like a person who has been transported to a strange and distant land. This impression is further emphasized by the narrator's comment that "this was a completely new world for Akaky Akakievich." 

The story of the stolen overcoat touched many of the clerks, although a few of them could not refrain from laughing at Akaky Akakievich even then. There and then they decided to make a collection, but all they raised was a miserable little sum since, apart from any extra expense, they had nearly exhausted all their funds subscribing to a new portrait of the Director as well as to some book or other recommended by one of the heads of department—who happened to be a friend of the author. So they collected next to nothing.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin
Related Symbols: The Overcoat
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

On the way home from the party hosted in his honor, Akaky was robbed by two thieves, who stole his overcoat. Distraught, he has attempted to report the theft to the Superintendent, who is uncooperative and suspicious. At work, Akaky's colleagues have already heard that his coat has been stolen, and treat him with rather limited sympathy. They pool money for a replacement coat, but this turns out to be a rather empty gesture, as they have all used up any extra funds to buy a new portrait of the Director and a book written by a friend of a friend. These details prove that the kindness and generosity extended to Akaky by his colleagues was flimsy and superficial, based on the coat he no longer has and not on him.

While the coat acted as a means by which Akaky came to be accepted and embraced by his colleagues, they are so focused on the social network created by wealth and power that, without his coat, Akaky once again becomes meaningless to them, and some even treat him with the same mocking cruelty as before. The fact that the other civil servants have spent money on a new portrait of the Director, and on a book whose author they are socially connected to, shows the supreme importance of status and power in the story; indeed, these are forces that trump basic moral qualities of kindness and empathy. 

“What do you mean by this, my dear sir?” he snapped again. “Are you unaware of the correct procedure? Where do you think you are? Don't you know how things are conducted here? It's high time you knew that first of all your application must be handed in at the main office, then taken to the chief clerk, then to the departmental director, then to my secretary, who then submits it to me for consideration...”
“But Your Excellency,” said Akaky Akakievich, trying to summon up the small handful of courage he possessed… “I took the liberty of disturbing Your Excellency because, well, secretaries, you know, are a rather unreliable lot...”
“What, what, what?” cried the Important Person. “Where did you learn such impudence? Where did you get those ideas from? What rebellious attitude towards their heads of department and superiors has infected young men these days?”

Related Characters: Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin (speaker), The Important Person (speaker), The Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 165-166
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator has explained that, although fundamentally the Important Person is "normal" and "very decent," his obsession with his status leads him to treat people ranked below him in an unreasonable fashion. For example, he has deliberately made Akaky wait longer than necessary simply as a way of showing off his power and importance. When Akaky tries to explain his situation and mentions that secretaries can be "a rather unreliable lot," the Important Person explodes with anger, calling Akaky impudent and "rebellious." The fact that the Important Person makes these accusations is comical, as in reality Akaky is about as far from rebellious as it is possible for a person to be. However, the Important Person's fixation with bureaucratic conventions––"the correct procedure"––has clearly clouded his judgment to the point of absurdity.

Finally poor Akaky Akakievich gave up the ghost. Neither his room nor what he had in the way of belongings was sealed off, in the first place, because he had no family, and in the second place, because his worldly possessions did not amount to very much at all… Whom all this went to, God only knows, and the author of this story confesses that he is not even interested. Akaky Akakievich was carted away and buried. And St Petersburg carried on without its Akaky Akakievich just as though he had never even existed.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin
Related Symbols: The Overcoat
Page Number: 168
Explanation and Analysis:

Having failed to find his overcoat again, Akaky has grown ill with a fever. The doctor, certain that Akaky will not survive, has advised Akaky's landlady to order him a cheap coffin. When Akaky does indeed die, St Petersburg carries on "just as though he had never existed." The narrator notes that he is unsure and uninterested in what happened to Akaky's few world possessions. This is perhaps the most obviously tragic moment in the novel. Akaky's death by fever demonstrates the power of the natural elements as the arbiter of life and death––although of course it does not help that Akaky was caught up in a cruel, illogical bureaucracy that hindered him from finding his coat.

The fact that St Petersburg goes on as usual shows that Akaky is as inconsequential in death as he was in life. Meanwhile, the statement that "the author of this story confesses that he is not even interested" in what happened to Akaky's belongings highlights a coldness and cruelty on the part of the narrator, too. Despite the fact that the story is about him, Akaky's life is too dull and pathetic to even be worth rendering in its full detail. 

So vanished and disappeared for ever a human being whom no one ever thought of protecting, who was dear to no one, in whom no one was the least interested, not even the naturalist who cannot resist sticking a pin in a common fly and examining it under the microscope; a being who endured the mockery of his colleagues without protesting, who went to his grave without achieving anything in his life, but to whom, nonetheless (just before the end of his life) a shining visitor in the form of an overcoat suddenly appeared, brightening his wretched life for one fleeting moment; a being upon whose head disaster had cruelly fallen, just as it falls upon the kings and great ones of this earth...

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin
Related Symbols: The Overcoat
Page Number: 168
Explanation and Analysis:

Having described Akaky's unceremonious death from fever, the narrator emphasizes Akaky's absolute unimportance to the world. According to the narrator, no one loved Akaky, and he wasn't even as interesting as a fly studied by a biologist; indeed, the only good thing that happened to Akaky in his life was the overcoat, although of course this episode too ends in "disaster." This passage is a key example of the way Gogol combines tragedy and comedy in the story, simultaneously compelling the reader to feel immensely sad for Akaky while laughing at just how absurdly awful and meaningless his life is. The use of a run-on sentence helps increase the impression that Akaky's life consists of one terrible fact after the next, creating comic momentum. 

There is also a note of irony in the fact that the narrator claims "no one was the least interested" in Akaky, as the narrator himself has written a story about him, a story that someone must now be reading. This ironic tone continues within the narrator's description of the overcoat, which is anthropomorphized as a "shining visitor." Once again, the overcoat's ability to drastically transform and improve Akaky's life is humorously exaggerated. The narrator's final comment that disaster fell on Akaky "just as it falls upon the kings and great ones of this earth" reminds us that, while Akaky may have been an exceptionally sad and unlucky character, misfortune happens to everyone. Indeed, this may provide a clue as to the narrator's justification for why this story is worth telling: the tragedy that befell Akaky is somehow shared by all of humanity. And, if Akaky's death is somehow relatable to all humanity, there is an implication that perhaps his meaningless, absurd life is as well.

But the Important Person's terror passed all bounds when the ghost's mouth became twisted, smelling horribly of the grave as it breathed on him and pronounced the following words: “Ah, at last I've found you! Now I've, er, hm, collared you! It's your overcoat I'm after! You didn't care about mine, and you couldn't resist giving me a good ticking-off into the bargain! Now hand over your overcoat!” The poor Important Person nearly died. However much strength of character he displayed in the office (usually in the presence of his subordinates)… he was so frightened that he even began to fear (and not without reason) that he was in for a heart attack.

Related Characters: Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin (speaker), The Narrator (speaker), The Important Person
Related Symbols: The Overcoat
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:

After Akaky's death, people have begun reporting seeing his ghost on the Kalinkin bridge, stealing people's overcoats as they pass by. Meanwhile, the Important Person has been feeling guilty about how he treated Akaky, and has attempted to reach out to him, only to find that he has died. One day, as the Important Person is leaving a party on the way to see his mistress, Akaky's ghost approaches him and nearly frightens him to death.

This interaction has a cathartic function in the narrative; in the face of Akaky's ghostly presence, the Important Person's ego is immediately deflated and he is terrified. The "strength of character" he displayed "in the presence of his subordinates" does not hold up against the threatening sight of a ghost. 

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Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin Character Timeline in The Overcoat

The timeline below shows where the character Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin appears in The Overcoat. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Overcoat
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...the start of the story, the Narrator stops himself from naming the department in which Akaky Akakievich, the main character in his tale, worked. The Narrator decides that it is better... (full context)
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The Narrator then goes on to introduce Akaky Akakievich as a civil servant in a “certain department” in St. Petersburg. He is a... (full context)
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The Narrator claims that no one remembers how Akaky Akakievich was appointed to his specific department. Nevertheless, Akaky is a constant presence there—however much... (full context)
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Akaky loves his job as a copyist so much that he makes it his entire life.... (full context)
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The Narrator says that Akaky is “perfectly happy with his lot,” but that St. Petersburg harbors a major obstacle to... (full context)
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Akaky, noting that Petrovich appears to be sober, is worried that he will not be able... (full context)
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Akaky resolves to return to Petrovich on Sunday morning to try to bargain for his coat.... (full context)
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Akaky resolves to deprive himself of many of his ordinary expenses. He stops drinking tea at... (full context)
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...lowest price possible. The Narrator states that it was probably the most triumphant day of Akaky’s life when Petrovich personally delivers the overcoat to his home. The coat arrives just in... (full context)
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At his department, everyone congratulates Akaky on his new overcoat. They insist that the event must be celebrated, and that Akaky... (full context)
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Akaky gazes with awe upon the high society populating the streets around him. He has not... (full context)
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Akaky reaches the assistant head clerk’s apartment and hangs up his overcoat. He enters the main... (full context)
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Akaky leaves the party feeling happy. In a flight of fancy, he runs after a lady... (full context)
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When he recovers, Akaky runs to the watchman in the middle of the square. Sobbing, he shouts at the... (full context)
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The next morning, Akaky goes to the Superintendent’s house, but is told that the Superintendent is asleep. Akaky returns... (full context)
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That day, Akaky does not go to his department, but he shows up to work the following morning... (full context)
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Social Status and Fate Theme Icon
Akaky decides to seek the help of the Important Person. The Narrator states that the official... (full context)
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When Akaky visits the Important Person, the official is chatting with an old friend, and uses Akaky’s... (full context)
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Akaky, feeling numb, walks home in a snowstorm. The next day, he is overtaken by a... (full context)
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Materialism, Material Goods, and Art  Theme Icon
Social Status and Fate Theme Icon
Akaky finally dies and is buried. No one takes an inventory of his possessions, as he... (full context)
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Soon after Akaky’s death, a rumor spreads through the city that a ghost has been appearing on the... (full context)
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Materialism, Material Goods, and Art  Theme Icon
Social Status and Fate Theme Icon
The Narrator turns our attention back to the Important Person. He notes that after kicking Akaky out of his office, the Important Person felt guilty, and thought of the clerk frequently... (full context)
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Materialism, Material Goods, and Art  Theme Icon
...hand on his collar. He turns around and sees a short man in an old uniform—Akaky Akakievich. The ghost is very pale. Akaky opens his putrid-smelling mouth and demands that the... (full context)
The Insignificance of the Everyman Theme Icon
...watchman turned away immediately. But, the Narrator says, this ghost was too tall to be Akaky. It wore a large mustache, and went off toward the Obukhoff Bridge. (full context)