The Lady with the Pet Dog by Anton Chekhov

The Lady with the Pet Dog book cover
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What does the church that they sit near in Yalta (Oreander) represent in Chekhov's "The Lady with the Pet Dog"?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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When Chekhov published this story (1899), Russian Orthodoxy was still dominant and all-pervasive in Russian society. This means that virtually all Russians (seemingly all but not literally all) were deeply religious and held tightly to a religious moral code. Whether they kept the code was a different matter, as Chekhov points out through Anna's story.

The church appears about mid-way in the story, after Anna and Gurov have both succumbed to physical attraction. They left her room together into a "death-like air," then took "a cab and drove to Oreanda." It is here that they took "a seat not far...

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Two of the main themes of the book are Morals and the Meaning of Life, and Nature Vs. Man. In the sight of a church, all of those things come together. Is morality something natural? Or is it something to be learned in church?

The church is something man-made, one of the only visible things besides sea, mountains, and nature. The author may be asking if morality is something inside us, or is it something that comes from a church?

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