It is said that this story was written in three parts and the third part got thrown out. Any thoughts of what might have happened in Part 3 of "The Bet"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is, indeed, interesting that Chekhov chose to delete the third section of his story as it points to a greater interest in the psychology of the banker, who in this section is filled with a sense of "death-in-life."

In this third section, the banker, who lives in some fear of the lawyer's return, expresses to others his respect and admiration of the lawyer for his relinquishing of his winnings as a sort of "smoke-screen" for his underlying guilt. But, then, his fears are realized as the lawyer appears one day, demanding a substantial amount of money, threatening to kill himself if the banker does not give it to him. Not wishing the man's death on his already burdened conscience, the banker agrees as he also is no longer happy enough to make his own suicide have meaning. So, he pays the bet and the lawyer departs.

Critics feel that this story reflects the chaos and spiritual crisis of the final years of czarist rule in Chekhov's Russia for which earthly rewards resolve nothing. Also, the lawyer's return indicates a theme that few people have real integrity. In his letter to the banker the man has written,

"It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory, and deceptive, likes a mirage. You may be proud, wise, and fine, but death will wipe you of the face of the earth as though you were no more than mice burrowing under the floor, and your posterity, your history, your immortal geniuses will burn or freeze together with the earthy globe."

And, this message from the second section applies to Russia where there was emptiness in all earthly pursuits. Truly, then, there is a stronger emphasis upon psychological realism in the unrevised edition of "The Bet."