(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Lady with the Pet Dog” covers the major phases of Anna’s adulterous affair with a married man. Anna, a married woman, meets her lover for the first time at a beach. After they decide to terminate the relationship, he drives her to Albany, and she eventually returns to her husband in Ohio. In the central scene at a public concert, the lover secretly confronts her; the next day, they resume their affair, meeting in hotels. Finally, Anna has a vision of happiness that remains ambiguous. This chronology of events, however, is broken up into three overlapping sections, and each narrates successively more events.

The first section consists of the central scene at the public concert. By beginning in the middle of events, the story challenges the reader to discern who the characters are and how they are related. The silent encounter between Anna and her lover goes unnoticed by everybody else; it seems so unreal that she feels as if she had imagined him. Her husband notices that she is not feeling well, takes her home, and they make love clumsily, symbolizing their unhappy marriage.

The second section goes back six months, starting with the car ride to Anna’s sister in Albany, New York, leading up to the central scene, and ending with the resumption of the affair. Although Anna feels the car ride bonds her to her lover, her emotions are confused and conflicted. She rehearses significant conversations in her mind but is capable of only...

(The entire section is 566 words.)