Chekhov Stories

Main Ideas

Symbols

Main Ideas Symbols

The Night Sky

The cosmos has symbolic significance in many Chekhov stories. In particular, the protagonist of The Night Before Easter is impressed by the vast starry landscape of the night sky. Lipa in In the Ravine also looks to the moon and stars but sees them as splendid symbols of nature's indifference toward humankind. The night sky thus takes on whatever significance the characters accord it and can be either a force for admiration or despair.

Food and Drink

Along with their clothes and houses, food and drink symbolize the wealth and social status of Chekhov's characters. The gentrified Yegorushka is fascinated by the peasants' plain fish stew in Steppe, while the peasant Savka relishes his plain boiled eggs and "greasy cakes" in Agafya. In contrast, the Tsybukin family in In the Ravine glut themselves on homemade jam and feast on four meals a day while peasants starve. We thus see how food assumes a symbolic as well as practical import in Chekhov's tales. As a marker of affluence and class affiliation, it provides readers with clues as to the characters' likely outlook on society.