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Short Story Group Reads > Chekhov's The Huntsman

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message 1: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Go here to read the story:

I'm working up a discussion intro in the next few hours...

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I wont get to it till tomorrow or wednesday.

message 3: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
I have a feeling we're dealing with not just a story about class and marriage but there's some kind of allegorical thing happening, too.

He's in motion, moving on up to the East Side, so to speak. She stands still, not moving, not changing.

I have to think about this one some more. And find some analysis to help me think some more.

He walked by a long road, straight as a taut strap. She, pale and motionless as a statue, stood, her eyes seizing every step he took. But the red of his shirt melted into the dark colour of his trousers, his step could not be seen, and the dog could not be distinguished from the boots. Nothing could be seen but the cap, and . . . suddenly Yegor turned off sharply into the clearing and the cap vanished in the greenness.

message 4: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (last edited Feb 15, 2010 03:19PM) (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
So I went traipsing about the internet looking for some analysis of this story, and there was none to be found. So I guess I'm on my own...

First and foremost a story of abandonment. Of mismatch. Something that Yegor seems to understand but Pelagea seems to not quite get.

We're halfway through the story, maybe more, before we find out they're married.

Then there is class. Seems as though Yegor is enough of a craftsman that he is taken in by the upper classes. When we see him, he is in patched up gentleman's clothes and seems to be moving all the time, forward, down the line, words like taut strap used to describe him.

Pelagea, in contrast, is compared to a statue -- her eyes "seize" every step he takes. Every description of her is standing still or statue like, except when she is shown to be ecstatically happy for having found him, perhaps hoping he might come with her.

I have this fleeting and perhaps incorrect notion that what we're getting here is a portrait of marriage and village life that holds men back.

That women and domestic life keep a man from being who he really is.

(Let's just set aside my 2010 notion that the opposite and converse can also be true.)

If we look back at The Lady with the Little Dog, I think we see some similar themes around marriage and freedom, even though the main character is going from being with one woman to being with another.

message 5: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 640 comments Mod
I just read the story, I had no idea it would be so short. In any case, I think you are likely right Shel, about there being more. However this is the type of story I personally have a hard time taking at more than face value.

I see the class issues but can't grasp at any allegory.

message 6: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
See, this is where actually knowing some Russian history might come in handy.

Is what we're seeing a system of patronage? Does Yegor represent some kind of new class of person, or the forward motion of society?

Does Pelagea represent the pull of village life, the mentality of maintaining those roots, that needs to change?

message 7: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 640 comments Mod
Yeah some Russian history would help here. I know next to nothing pre-revolution except what I managed to pick up while reading other Russians.

It does seem that this is some sort of patronage but i get the sense that he is only in this position because of his ability to shoot.

The fact that he has this patron has in effect caused Yegor to believe he is well above the class of his wife.

message 8: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (last edited Feb 16, 2010 05:23PM) (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
I think believes is key here.

He pretty clearly places himself head and shoulders above her in class.

What's more interesting is the abandonment thing and how they came to be married in the first place. Maybe we can all relate to that more.

And the key in this story is the reveal, you know? That it takes place so far along, that he seems like just a guy and a dog walking along and her like a woman who just knows who he is.

message 9: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 640 comments Mod
Am I crazy (or entirely forgetful) but didn't he say he came to be married through drunkenness?

Though I think this could just be one of those things a person says to another to hurt them. I am imagining the abandonment stemming directly from being swept up in the attention from his patron (unless my timeline is out of whack).

Beliefs have led to the terrible treatment of people, it seems that this is another instance of that.

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

No, I'm passsing on this one. Dead Russians!

message 11: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 640 comments Mod
Margaret don't pass. It's only 4 pages!

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, did you like the story? The writer's style? Some times it's just a story and doesn't need to "mean" anything. I'm afraid to read it only to end up all agitated over another dead russian.

message 13: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Actually, I did like the story, and the reason I like these stories is because they are early forays into the form itself. They may only use one device that became well-used and loved, maybe even discarded eventually, but they are a good way to think about the form as a whole. Sort of like reading The Aeneid or The Odyssey, in a way.

The point of the story, for me as a short story reader, is the sneaky reveal. Much like La Parure, or a Poe story.

But yes. We can move into more recent authors. I put together this list a very long time ago based on requests... and I am always open to more of those.

message 14: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments Tchekhov is master, just it. Few are so perfectly minimalists, there is nothing else to be said there that we can not fill by ourselves.
Anyways, I suspect the huntsman and the girl represents not just two classes, but two different cultures. Pre-revolutionary russia was filed with such disctions...
Anyways, seems also to me that the huntsman is not something new, but old. If i am not mistaken, some short of lower nobility or nobility companion and the girl may have some religious conatation on it...

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