In "The Lady with the Pet Dog," why do you think Chekov does not report what ultimately becomes of the lovers?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It is characteristic of Chekhov's stories that he does not usually end them with surprises or epiphanies but leaves conflicts unresolved. This way of telling a story has appealed to many modern short story writers, including Raymond Carver, who was a great admirer of Chekhov and even had a picture of him on the wall over his writing desk. No doubt the writers who have been influenced by Chekhov's stories appreciate the fact that human problems do not always have pat resolutions, either happy or tragic. Most human problems do not get resolved. What usually happens is that they are replaced by other human problems and the older ones are forgotten. This is something that anyone can observe by reminiscing over his or her past life. We may wish we had done something more positive in such and such a situation, but we didn't do it. We may wish we had never gotten into such and such a situation, but we got into it and perhaps we muddled our way out of it.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Chekhov does intimate what ultimately becomes of Gurov and Anna: they have a "a long, long road before them, and that the most complicated and difficult part of it was only just beginning": he intimates that they struggle and ultimately find a secluded locale from which to live a secluded life--that will undoubtedly be fraught with its own sorrows and regrets. However, the crux of the story is not what ultimately happens but what has happened to them in the revelations they have had about themselves and the nature of life. In turn, Chekhov suggests that these same revelations are a fit province for the vast majority of readers who may be supposed to be undergoing similar circumstances of living beguiled inauthentic lives.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are a number of fascinating elements to this story, and one of them is the way that love is presented. It is clear that as we trace the birth of the relationship between Gurov and Anna that this is not just another casual seduction, the like of which Gurov is very familiar with. In contrast to the shallow, superficial nature of Russian society, the love that Anna and Gurov have for each other is shown to be pure and genuine. However, Chekhov leaves us and them only at the point when they have realised that they do love each other and are aware of the cost of what pursuing that love will entail:

Then they discussed their situation for a long time, trying to think how they could get rid of their necessity for hiding, deception, living in different towns, being so long without meeting. How were they to shake off these intolerable fetters?

Even though it is clear that rough times lie ahead for these lovers as they seek to extricate themselves from their social positions, at the same time the ending is one of hope as they contemplate the "inch" that separates them from the "new, beautiful life." Chekhov seems to be suggesting that the pursuit of true love is never easy, and will always involve suffering and hard times, yet at the same time it is the highest moral good, and worthy of those difficult trials.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial