How would the meaning of Anton Chekhov's "Vanka" change if the story were told by Vanka?

Much of Anton Chekhov's "Vanka" is told from Vanka's perspective through his memories and his letter to his grandfather. The third-person narrator, however, does chime in to give readers descriptions of Vanka and his setting that the boy himself may not have provided but that help readers understand the story more thoroughly.

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For all practical purposes, most of the story "Vanka" by Anton Chekhov is told by nine-year-old Vanka himself, but the author uses some interesting techniques to help readers enter into Vanka's perspective.

The story begins in the third person, and we get a description of Vanka on Christmas Eve. He is getting ready to write a letter, and the author describes his furtive manner. We get the idea that he is not supposed to be writing at all, or at least that he thinks his master might be displeased with him for doing so.

After this description, the story zooms in to Vanka's perspective, and we read the beginning of the letter he is writing in the first person. Almost immediately, though, the author backs up slightly and returns to the third person. At the same time, he enters directly into Vanka's own memories, and we hear all about his grandfather and the dogs from Vanka's own perspective. These are scenes Vanka has witnessed, and they are colored by his remembrance. They belong to him.

After sighing over his memories, Vanka returns to his letter. Now we read his own words as he tells his grandfather all about the hardships of his life and begs him to come and take him home. As Vanka pauses a moment, the perspective zooms out, and we see the boy rubbing his eyes and sobbing (something that Vanka himself might not have admitted). He continues his letter with a description of Moscow.

Then, Vanka pauses again for more recollections. He sees himself with his grandfather going to get a Christmas tree, and he recalls what life was like when his mother was alive. Again, these memories are Vanka's own, for the most part, although the section about his life after his mother's death appears to be more of a summary than anything else, as if Vanka doesn't really want to remember it.

Vanka finishes his letter, begging his grandfather to come and get him. Then, the third-person narrator picks up again to describe Vanka addressing his letter. The story ends in a hopeful dream as the sleeping Vanka pictures his grandfather reading his letter.

Both Vanka's letter and much of his recollections provide us with his own perspective on his life and situation. The third-person insertions help us draw back from Vanka occasionally and see him more clearly, for they describe him in ways he might not have described himself. The whole story offers a detailed glimpse of Vanka's quite miserable life.

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