Savka, a lazy and strangely introspective man of great physical force and sexual charm, as well as some bizarre habits, is seen as a despicable outcast by the village's male community. Women, though, 'pity' Savka and visit him regularly by night, bringing food and receiving romantic 'hand-outs' which he delivers condescendingly, with contempt mixed with perplexing pity. Agafya, a young railway signalman's wife, is the latest convert to the local sex cult, risking her husband's potentially murderous wrath for several minutes of bliss with a man whom she is apparently in almost religious awe of.
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