Compare and contrast "Joy" and "The Lottery Ticket" by Chekhov.

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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There are many ways in which Chekhov’s two short stories ("Joy" and "The Lottery Ticket") are different, but one significant difference is that the latter highlights hidden conflicts in an outwardly contented family, whereas the former depicts a much happier and wholesome family life.

In the first short story "Joy" Anton Chekhov depicts a pretty typical loving, busy family in which things can often go wrong but where differences and problems are overcome with tolerance, humor and love. Each family member is seen as his or her own imperfect but lovable self as can be seen in the way they appear in their nightclothes, tousled from sleep, or in the way Chekhov depicts the younger family members who rush about excitedly in a less than demure manner. There is a flustered but caring mother and a confused but insightful father and it is clear that they love their son although they might not always agree with him.

Contrastingly, in the second short story by Anton Chekhov, the "family" outwardly appears as contented and organized, upstanding and proper, conducting themselves as good law abiding citizens. The father reads his paper after supper and all is quiet but the couple do not seem to truly engage with each other and we, as readers, wonder whether they truly have much in common. Then Chekhov illuminates all their shortcomings with irony, in one moment, and it becomes clear that they both have very different ideas as to what winning the lottery would mean. In each case, they put themselves first and each partner seems to blame the other for "spoiling" the true transformation their lottery win could bring. They think about their partner’s dependency or lack of class or extended family. It is clear there is bitterness and resentment on both sides and it is not pleasant to read about their inner thoughts. Readers are left wondering whether the marriage was one of convenience as it seems to hold very little love, compassion or joy, whereas in the first short story the picture is one of care and acceptance. While the young man in "Joy" may be overexcited and naive, he is not cynical or bitter and his family are used to his ways.

Anton Chekhov’s two short stories allow us to go back in time to visit two Russian families and compare and contrast their lifestyles, attitudes and differing circumstances. As Chekhov worked as a young trainee doctor it is possible that his inspirations were drawn from real life observations.

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