Better than any manifesto, Mumu indicted the tyrannical cruelty of pre-revolutionary landowners in Russia to their serfs.
Gerasim is a deaf and dumb peasant, brought from the country to serve his mistress as caretaker of her property on the outskirts of Moscow.
He doesn't like his new life, but gets used to it, especially after he rescues a little puppy with black and white spots from the riverbank.
With this dog, Mumu, Gerasim finally has love and affection in his bitter and otherwise lonely life, and the dog worships him.
One day the mistress calls for Mumu to be brought into her presence; when it bares its teeth at her, the mistress, moved to rage, orders the dog out of the house.
Her butler tries to sell Mumu, but she finds her way back to her master.
Gerasim hides the dog; but when the mistress hears Mumu bark at an intruder, Gerasim is ordered to hand Mumu over—so she can be destroyed.
Turgenev wrote Mumu with such vivid images and reflections of the state of the tsarist Russia that this piece, together with his other stories, was credited with having influenced public opinion in favor of the abolition of serfdom in 1861.
IVAN TURGENEV (1818–1883) was a Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright known for his honest portrayals of Russian serfs in the feudal system of the nineteenth century. Unlike his contemporaries Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, whose writings focused primarily on church and religion, Turgenev believed in the need for Russia to Westernize. He criticized the provincial society and political turbulence of his time through sophisticated and passionate prose. His novel Fathers and Sons is regarded as one of the major works of 19th-century fiction. He also wrote such masterworks as The Diary of a Superfluous Man, Mumu, First Love, Torrents of Spring, King Lear of the Steppes, Smoke, and A Sportsman’s Sketches.