Charlie (my husband, for those who don’t know) is cah-RAY-zee about Anton Chekov. He gave me a few Chekov stories to read over the years. I loved one and meh-ed at the others. I am assured that the fault is mine, not Chekov’s.
I suppose I could have chosen a better story, but I can’t imagine how. With this story, I get it. I get it! I read it, and I was like Ohhhh….
Such a short story. So much to tell.
It’s told mostly from the point of view of a seven-year-old boy, the son of a well-to-do family. The first sentence informs us that he’s “fat,” which may be supposed to explain why he’s so interested in the cook’s welfare. His mama and nurse are determined to marry the cook off. Not to get rid of her; she’ll still live with them and her husband will not.
The little boy stands in the place of anyone who hasn’t bought into the world view that young women need to be controlled. He doesn’t understand why the cook can’t live her own life. His father doesn’t understand. It’s the women in the story who dig up a suitor, negotiate the terms, and arrange the wedding.
And what does the little boy give the unhappy bride, in a blind attempt to comfort her? An apple.
It seems to be typical of Chekov, if I understand my husband rightly, to set up resonances rather than building story structures. If so, I love the resonances I pick up from this story of female power and female undermining of female power. The old nurse (the Crone) and the boy’s mother (the Mother) should be in concert with the cook (the Maiden), but they conspire in robbing her of her autonomy.
Then there’s that apple, given her by the new generation. Is that a hint that she may be married, but she’s always free to transgress, or that her will is still free? Is it a straight trade: the the comfort of food from the boy for the comfort of food from the cook?
So. Many. Things.
Thanks, Jay, for tempting me into the Deal Me In 2018 Read A Story A Week Challenge!
If YOU need a short story to read, I have free ones here (not counting the Hot Flashes) on my Free Reads page. I also have three collections (not counting the Hot Flashes collection) for 99 cents each linked from my Short Stories page.
A WRITING PROMPT BASED ON MY POST: Two people conspire against another “for his/her own good.”