The narrator, Nikolai Stepanych, tells his own story. He begins by explaining that his own name is very popular and respected. He is a famous professor of medicine and a councillor He describes himself as very old and feeble. He is wrinkled and frail. Stepanych describes his failing memory and his growing propensity toward insomnia. He looks at his fat, ungainly wife and tries to find in her the slender beauty he married. She only worries about poverty and bargains. He is embarrassed that his daughter Liza is aware of her parents' money concerns, that they have trouble paying the servants. She volunteers to sell her personal items to raise money, which bothers her father even more.