Describe the theme of "The Shot" by Alexander Pushkin.

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator


"The Shot" by Alexander Pushkin involves a man who does not complete two different duels.  The conflict in the story surrounds the idea of man versus himself when the character of Silvio chooses to avoid the killing of two characters because of his analysis of the men he faces.

Thematically, the author emphasizes the restraint of the main character Silvio.  When Silvio explains his reasons for not dueling the man who insulted him, the narrator learns that Silvio shows and has shown control when he did not kill the first man that showed no respect for the duel or his death. 

I lowered my pistol.

"You don't seem to be ready for death just at present," I said to him, "you wish to have your breakfast; I do not wish to hinder you."

"You are not hindering me in the least, he replied.  Have the goodness to fire, or just as you pleased---you owe me a shot; I shall always be at your service."

Later, he faces the man again and is curtailed by the man’s wife who begs for the man’s life.

The lack of enterprise in the lives of the young officers and even Silvio shows a waste in their lives.  Dueling, playing cards, and drinking---this indicates the uselessness of the life of the military officers and even the men like Silvio who spend their time on the fringes of the military life. This character like Silvio is often portrayed in Russian literature.

The character has talents, wealth, and position.  He disregards social values and lives a life of boredom.  His interests involve gambling and dueling.   Many times he causes distress in others by his actions.  Usually, he is a fatalist in his attitudes.


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The Shot

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