- 1 About Love
- 1.1 Summary of “About Love”
- 1.2 Important Questions and Answers from “About Love”
- 1.3 Question. How does an account of the occasion and of the setting in which the narrative occurs affect our understanding of Alyohin?
- 1.4 Question. Alyohin is said to rush around like a squirrel in a cage and this judgement is echoed in the final paragraph of the story. What is the significance of this repetition?
Summary of “About Love”
Written by Russian dramatist and a short story writer Anton Chekhov the story “About Love” defines love as a great mystery. The writer has included three different love experiences to justify love as a great mystery. Alyohin narrates the stories to his guest Burkin and Ivanych. The story begins with the narration of a violent and sensual love affair between a cook, Nikanor and beautiful women servant, Pelageya. Stupid and drunkard Nikanor used to swear and even beat his beloved Pelageya. Therefore, Pelageya wants to live with him just so without getting married. Nikanor, on the other hand, doesn’t want to live without getting married.
Reflecting on the love affair between Nikanor and Pelageya, Alyohin defines love as a great mystery behind any completed final definition. Then, he narrates his own brief episode of a love affair with the university girl. While he was in Moscow University, he used to be in love with a girl and held her in his arms all the time, but the girl thought only about the money he would give her to meet her everyday expenses.
After a brief description of bachelors of both in the town and countryside and the atmosphere, Alyohin begins to tell his guest another love experience of his own with a married woman.
After being graduated from university, Alyohin returned to the farm of his father located in Sofyino. Though the works on the farm did not suit an educated person like him, he was compelled to work there to pay off the debt his father had taken for his education. While he was in the village, he was elected as a magistrate and needed to go to town to deal with court cases. During his visit, he met another judge, Ivan Luganovich, who invited him for dinner. At the dinner, he met the kind, beautiful, fascinating and young wife of Ivan Luganovich, Anna Alexeyevna, and fell in love with her at first sight. During summer, Alyohin busied himself in his farm making hay. However, he was haunted by the memory of Anna Alexeyevna all the times
Alyohin went to participate in a charity show in the town in autumn. At the show, he met Anna Alexeyevna once again. Since then he visited Anna Alexeyevna whenever he went to the city. He was welcomed into the Luganovich’s family as a noble fellow. Both Luganovich and Anna Alexeyevna used to be worried about Aloyhin regarding his profession and even offered him financial help. Aloyhinand Luganovich family used to exchange gifts. Alyohin used to think that Luganovich was not the perfect match for Anna. He used to go to the theatre with Anna. Sometimes they would also go for long walks. Despite their gentle, platonic and sincere love they could not confess the love to each other. Anna reasoned that she was not young and energetic enough to start a new life with Alyohin. Alyohin thought that he would not be able to make Anna any happier. He didn’t want to shift Anna from one monotonous life to another. So they kept their feelings to themselves.
At the later stage of Anna’s life, she started staying with her brother and sister. When she realised that her life had been spoiled, she suffered from mental prostration and was recommended to go to Crimea for her treatment. On the day she was moving to Crimea, a large crowd of people including Alyohin, arrived to see her off. Alyohin went to see her off in the compartment of the train, carrying a basket she had almost forgotten. When their eyes met, they could not control their emotions and confessed their love to each other crying and holding onto each other. As the train was moving for Crimea, Alyohin went to another compartment and getting down the train at the next station, and he returned home.
After Alyohin finished telling his guest his own love experience with Anna, it stops raining outside, the sun came out, and they could see a beautiful scene of garden and river.
Important Questions and Answers from “About Love”
Question. How does an account of the occasion and of the setting in which the narrative occurs affect our understanding of Alyohin?
Answer. Firstly, when he started to tell the guests about his love experience with Anna Alexevenya, the sky was grey, trees were drenched with rain and in such conditions, the guest could go nowhere and the only option was to be imprisoned in Alyohin’s house and listen to him. This setting signifies physical and mental imprisonment in the life of Alyohin. He was imprisoned on the farm of his father physically and mentally imprisoned by the memory of Anna.
Secondary, at the end of the narration the sky becomes clear and they could see a fine view of the garden and the river. This setting helps to understand that Alyohin is now at least fresh from the memory of Anna by sharing his story to the guests.
Question. Alyohin is said to rush around like a squirrel in a cage and this judgement is echoed in the final paragraph of the story. What is the significance of this repetition?
Answer. Squirrel in a cage indicates the stage of inertia or no change, and the same was the condition of Alyohin. Both his work on the farm and love affair with Anna had no chances of progress. All day he worked in the farm but he remained pennyless and could not become able to clear off the debt, his father had taken for his study and he also could not confess his love with Anna, before it was too late. This condition was reflected by Luganovich at first sight and the two guests lastly.
Thus, this repetition signifies that Alyohin has been going through a phase of bondage physically in his father’s farmhouse and mentally through Annas’s memory and hence trapped in the vicious circle.
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