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Readers may find some difficulty with the setting of “The Lady with the Dog” because they may not know Russian geography. The problem is not great, however, for Yalta is a Black Sea resort town, and many students might realize that Moscow is Russia’s major city, far to the north. The city of S— is not described, but its location is probably not of great significance except that it is distant from Moscow and is isolated, just as Anna Sergeyevna is isolated from Gurov once she leaves Yalta.
Mostly in the story, the locations are mentioned insofar as they are scenes of action. A detail that is not needed, however, but which is included by Chekhov is the “long grey fence studded with upturned nails” in front of Anna’s home (paragraph 78).
One is tempted here to look at the fence as a contextual symbol of the difficulties that Gurov and Anna face. The lapdog, too, may be construed as a symbol, for the dog is the link that first connects the two, and in paragraph 84 it dominates Gurov’s mind as he reproaches himself for having traveled from Moscow.
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