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The Three Sisters

by Anton Chekhov

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Why are there many soldiers in the house all the time?  Do they live there?  Why aren't they living in a military barracks and doing something? 

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The father, now deceased, was an important military officer, probably a general, in this outlying town, far from Moscow.  His house was a mansion, probably the biggest house in the small town, where he raised his three daughters and hosted semi-official gatherings for the officers, who were also far from their families in Moscow and elsewhere.  The military was an elitist social circle; it served as a social gathering place for officers when the general was alive, and they still precipitate there; the unmarried daughter Irina, is also a draw.  The daughters are not forceful or socially powerful enough to kick the parasite officers out; in fact the ladies feel safer with them near. Why they don’t live in the barracks is really a question outside the dramatic scope of the play The presence of military personnel in secondary to the fact of the daughter’s social dilemma and their desire to move back to Moscow and Moscow society.  Notice too, that Vershinin, upon arriving at his new assigment, comes to the General’s home to pay his respects, not knowing that he has died. (Vershinin obliquely refers to the separation of living accommodations between officers and enlisted men at one point:

  VERSHININ. At one time I lived on German Street. From German Street I frequently crossed to The Red Barracks....)


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