How would I critically comment on Maxim Gorky's story "Twenty-six Men and a Girl"?
A critical analysis (leading to critical comment) of Maxim Gorky's Twenty-six Men and a Girl would encompass comment on Gorky's thesis and themes; the structure of the narrative; and his purpose in writing (to amuse, to educate, etc.).
Gorky's thesis and themes include creating a compelling expose commentary on the plight of pre-revolutionary Russian workers. Gorky thematically reveals that their state of being was reduced to that of nonhuman entities of production. Gorky also thematically revealed their need for humanity (a universal need) and the strengths and weakness of that humanity (e.g., the changing attitudes toward Tanya).
The structure includes large typically Gorkian metaphors that are larger than life and convey messages tied to his themes (e.g., the stove). Another point of structure is that Gorky creates universally symbolic representations for individual characters (e.g., Tanya symbolizes light of human warmth). You will also want to comment on the points of narrative form pertaining to rising action, climax, falling action, resolution.
Gorky's purpose, or motivation, in writing is to expose conditions and motivate change in conditions. In this sense, he is in line with English writers of the 19th century who redefined moral ethic to encompass social behavior as opposed to continuing to constitute a purely personal code of behavior.
In addition, you will also want to summarize the work and give an opinion as to how successful you think Gorky was at fulfilling his thematic aims and at fulfilling his expose purposes (e.g., Did he expose a particular problem and did he establish it as a universal problem?)