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.