Anton Chekhov

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What threat do they make if Gregory Kuzmich is found guilty of stealing in Chekhov's "The Confession"?

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In "The Confession" , by Anton Chekhov, Gregory receives an open threat from his wife; the woman who, prior to his job promotion, had clearly showed him no affection whatsoever. Shortly after, he received another threat from his brother, Yevlampy. Just like Gregory's wife, Yevlampy thought quite poorly of Gregory

he considered me a selfish parasite, in capable of self-sacrifice, and for this he despised me.

Also like Gregory's wife, he suddenly has a change of heart over his brother when he hears the news about the cashier position.

The threats occurred during the party that Gregory was asked to throw for his friends and co-workers. Most of the attendees had taken money from Gregory and were gorging on the food and drink that Gregory had spent on them; meanwhile they were also whispering maliciously behind Gregory's back, calling him a thief.

As a result, the wife tells Gregory that if the rumors of his stealing are true, she will leave

"I warn you. I cannot go on living with a thief. I'll leave"

Similarly, even though Yevlampy took five thousand rubles out of Gregory that night, he suddenly became "ethical" and also warned him about the rumors even as he is pocketing the money.

"Watch out! I will not be brother to a thief"

Therefore, between the taking of Gregory's money, and the rumors of his having stolen it, those who had once benefited from Gregory openly shouted that there will be an inspection the next day. This is how Gregory gets caught and hence his confession comes as a result of what took place.

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What are they threatening to do if they find out that Gregory Kuzmich is guilty of stealing in "The Confession"?

The confession is a highly amusing and rather wry account of the hypocrisy of society and the way that they are happy to benefit from a man's wealth until it becomes clear that the wealth has been acquired through suspect means. Gregory Kuzmich, the narrator of this short story, states how everybody courted him and he was considered to be a shaker and mover of society, even though there were vicious rumours concerning his wealth and where he got it from. However, what is key to realise is that those nearest to him are perfectly happy to benefit from the wealth themselves until it is officially decided if Kuzmich has actually stolen it or not. Note the following quote:

I saw their smiles and heard their sighs. "He stole it, the crook!" they whispered, grinning maliciously. But their sighing and smirking did not prevent them from eating, drinking and enjoying themselves. Neither wolves nor diabetics ever ate as they did.

This is the case with both the narrator's wife and brother, who on the one hand promise to leave him and disassociate themselves with him if he is proven to be a thief, but are very happy to enjoy the wealth that Kuzmich brings. Hypocrisy then is the key theme of this short story, as those around Kuzmich threaten to abandon him whilst partaking of the wealth that they apparently find so adverse.

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