Back to top

Aunt Polly is comically reduced to a backside as she whips Tom following his various antics. Kustodiev’s caricatures of her are comic yet alienating for the young reader. The text informs the reader that Tom, visible only as a flailing hand and legs "has become a real Bolshevik, Tom” even as he stoically endures his aunt’s whipping without making a sound.

Auntie could not believe her eyes when she awoke:

“You better watch out or you’ll get it,

It’s clear you’ve become a Bolshevik—

An unholy ogre,

Eat your little soup at dinner, dear Tom

Or else you will be punished with those birch   
     branches that you know so well.

You are too small for the branches I have!

But no bother, Tom,

Time for some up-rearing over again!”

Very painfully the switch beats,

But the boy does not yell.

A true Bolshevik

You’ve become, Tom!


(Translation by Mari Henderson, Dalhousie University)