Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Chekhov is renowned for his economy of words and ability to portray a mood or a person with a single, well-chosen word. In “Gooseberries,” he utilizes this technique as usual until Ivan Ivanich gives his speech on the evils of the world. At this point, Chekhov launches into a very uncharacteristic authorial sermon that catches the immediate attention of the reader but that, at times, seems redundant.

Another Chekhovian technique, however, is carefully adhered to: the use of exaggeration of a human characteristic to prove a point. Chekhov wishes to portray the human ability to delude oneself and to settle for less than what one can achieve. In his portrayal of Nikolai Ivanich, Chekhov presents the reader with an absurd example of such a person but not so absurd that the point is lost. Chekhov’s immense talent permits him to exaggerate but not go so far that the reader views the work as fantasy or comedy.

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

Decline of Russia’s Feudal Order
The end of the nineteenth century saw the end of the old feudal order in Russia....

(The entire section is 333 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The story opens with a description of the Russian countryside on a rainy day. Chekhov at first describes the scene as gray and dull,...

(The entire section is 236 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

Story within a Story
Aliokhin’s house is two-storied, and so is ‘‘Gooseberries.’’ Chekhov introduces the...

(The entire section is 490 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The narrator of "Gooseberries" is presumably Chekhov himself. He makes Ivan his spokesperson, hailing the benefits of moderation and...

(The entire section is 426 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Chekhov clearly uses Ivan's speech as a vehicle to defend his stand on social issues of concern in Russia in the late 1800s. Education of the...

(The entire section is 306 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

1898: Social interactions are often unplanned, yet welcome, and people are entertained simply by conversation. At times, one...

(The entire section is 226 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Is the ending of the book satisfactory? Can you identify a climax to the story?

2. What purpose does Pelageya serve in the...

(The entire section is 148 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Discuss the symbolism in the novel; specifically of the gooseberries, the rain, and the pipe.

2. It has been said that one of...

(The entire section is 262 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

Read a sampling of William Blake’s poems from Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience Write an essay in which you...

(The entire section is 157 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Gooseberries is the middle story in a trilogy of Chekhov's tales, the first titled "The Man in a Shell" and the last titled "About Love." All...

(The entire section is 55 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

Anton Chekhov: Selected Stories (1990), translated by Ann Dunnigan, is a collection of twenty of Chekhov’s short works. Because...

(The entire section is 152 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

"Chekhov, Anton." In Contemporary Authors, vol. 124. Detroit: Gale, 1988. A biographical essay with information about Chekhov's work....

(The entire section is 229 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)

Baker, Simon, ‘‘‘Gooseberries,’’’ in Reference Guide to Short Fiction, 1st ed., edited by...

(The entire section is 426 words.)