What is the conflict in "The Darling"

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pirateteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chekhov's short story "The Darling" we meet Olga Semyonovna.  Throughout the course of the story Olga (or Olenka) marries three times.  With each marriage she becomes completely engrossed with her husband; her husbands likes and dreams become her dreams.  With her first husband, Kukin, she worries about the rain and his theater.  When he dies, she marries her second husband, Vassily Andreitch Pustovalov, who believes the theater to be "nonsense." She too begins to see the theater the same and so spends all of her time worrying about him and his lumberyard.  When he dies, she is seen spending time with a local veterinarian, Smirnin, who is separated from his wife.  With Smirnin, Olga only focuses on veterinarian concerns.  When he returns to his wife, Olga finds herself for the first time with no one to attend to.  She had no man to tell her what to think, so ‘‘she had no opinions of any sort.’’ Alone, she loses all the vitality that once made her so special and have the nickname "darling."

When Smirnin and his wife get back together, she insists they move in with her.  This time she attaches her self to Smirnin's son, but he finds her suffocating and dislikes her attention.