In Chekhov's "The Bet," the banker and the lawyer both learn the futility of their wager, as they have found that life and its conditions differ greatly from their more youthful perceptions.
The lawyer learns that his sweeping statement that life on any terms is better than death is not true. In his isolation, he finds that there is little meaning to all the philosophy and languages he learns, writing, "It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory, deceptive, like a mirage." Later in the letter in which he forfeits his bet, the lawyer declares that everything is empty and illusory. Without explicitly stating it, the lawyer understands that little has meaning unless it is shared with others. His bet has been that of a proud, naive young man, but now he knows the purpose for the company of others.
The banker has lost much of his arrogance because his financial state finds his pride greatly diminished from that of fifteen years ago when he made the bet. Now, having secretly read the lawyer's letter, he realizes the arrogance of his wager as well as the selfish cruelty of his plan to murder the lawyer in order to save himself from financial ruin in paying for his having lost the bet. He decides to hide the lawyer's letter in which the younger man rejects the money in order to demonstrate his revulsion for what he terms grotesque contemporary values:
To prove to you in action how I despise all that you live by, I renounce the two million of which I once dreamed as of paradise and which I now despise.
The banker is repulsed by his own earlier motives to murder the lawyer in order to save himself from financial ruin. Now, he feels "a great contempt for himself" for what the lawyer has endured and for his own overriding avarice.