you are tasked with readingAs in our unit on painting, what we’re doing with the artwork is working with its specific details to determine what the work’s larger purpose/interpretation might be. Only here, rather than dealing with a static image, we’re working with narrative structure and words as our major units of meaning.
With Chekhov, what I’m primarily interested in is the way that literary narration of setting corresponds to character moods and to larger themes and ideas. So what I’d like you to do is to quote some piece of text and analyze the writing in it in an attempt to relate minute details to the larger ideas and themes of the story.
Example: in his initial description of Lieutenant Lobytko, Chekhov writes, “Lobytko, a tall, strong built officer, who was riding ahead of the others, who had no mustache (although he was over twenty-five there wasn’t a trace of hair on his face), and who was renowned in the brigade for his keen senses and ability to sniff a woman out from miles away, turned round and said, ‘Yes, there must be women here, my instinct tells me'” (112). The description here has a contradiction. Chekhov says that the officer is “tall, strong built” and is known to be able to “sniff a woman out from miles away,” aspects that make him seem a manly-man of sorts. However, Chekhov also notes that he “had no mustache” or “a trace of hair on his face,” indicating a childish, immature or underdeveloped quality about Lobytko, maybe indicating that an obsession with women (and presumably sex) has a childish quality to it, one that might tie to Ryabovich’s childish puppy love over the mysterious kiss. Maybe that means that part of what the story about is growing up and maturation.