"Vanka" is a short story written by Anton Chekhov in 1886. It follows the story of a boy called Vanka, who is nine years old and an orphan. The story tells us that Vanka is an apprentice to a shoemaker in Moscow, far away from his grandfather, whom he misses a lot. This brings us to the main theme of this short story: loneliness. Vanka is extremely lonely, he has not only lost both his parents, but he also had do leave his grandfather behind and had to find himself a job as an apprentice in the big city. We can read in the story that the shoemaker does not treat Vanka very well, as Vanka writes the following about his master in his letter to his grandfather: "The master took me by the hair and dragged me out into the yard and beat me with the stirrup-strap." This bad treatment clearly further upsets Vanka and makes him miss his home and his grandfather even more.
Bearing this background information in mind, it should now be obvious for you to understand the significance of the title of this short story in relation to the main theme. The title is simply the name of the protagonist, Vanka, who is experiencing great loneliness. As loneliness is the main theme of this short story, it makes sense to name the story after the protagonist who experiences this feeling. By naming the short story "Vanka," the author tries to increase the empathy that the reader feels with the young boy when reading the story. It makes the story a lot more personal and helps the reader to really empathize and understand the theme of loneliness within the storyline.