A Country Cottage by Anton Chekhov
In A Country Cottage by Anton Chekhov we have the theme of happiness, love, conflict, anger and acceptance. Taken from his The Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Chekhov may be exploring the theme of happiness. Sasha and Varya are standing on the station platform admiring their surroundings. If anything it is idyllic or at least that is how Sasha and Varya feel. It is as though nothing could change their mood which shifts from happiness to love near instantaneous when the couple hold one another’s hands. However there is conflict in the story and that is brought about by Sasha’s uncle’s untimely arrival at the station. Neither Sasha nor Varya are prepared for the uncle’s arrival and it immediately causes conflict when the uncle suggests he and his family will be staying with Sasha and Varya in their little cottage.
If anything Sasha’s uncle and his family are unwanted guests as far as Sasha and Varya are concerned. So emotional is Sasha that he blames Varya for his uncle’s arrival. Something which is simply not true. Varya is not to blame. In fact nobody is to blame for the situation that evolves. There is also a possibility that symbolically Sasha’s uncle represents city life. Something that Sasha and Varya are uncomfortable with. They are at their happiest when they are alone together in the country. Like two young lovers knotted by happiness and love. Only for their happiness to be instantly taken away from them with Sasha’s uncle’s arrival. It might also be important that Sasha does not refuse his uncle even though circumstances are not ideal for him. This might suggest that Sasha is honourable and looks upon his elders with respect.
The moon plays an important part in the story and in many ways links itself to Sasha and Varya’s mood. At first the moon is described as ‘envying their happiness’. Later when the train arrives the moon is described as seeming to ‘smile’ as ‘Sasha turning his head away to hide his angry despairing face.’ If anything the moon serves to act as the opposite to how Sasha and Varya feel as though the moon is happy that it is lonely in the sky. It does not have to deal with relatives it does not want to deal with. The arrival of the train, described as a ‘monster’, acts as foreshadowing to what will happen and how Sasha and Varya’s mood changes from happiness to sadness. Chekhov possibly using the word ‘monster’ to directly express how Sasha and Varya are feeling. Their lives are being disturbed by Sasha’s uncle’s arrival with his family. Something that obviously angers Sasha who wants time alone with Varya.
The end of the story is interesting. Though Sasha is blaming Varya for the events that are unfolding he still nonetheless accepts the position he finds himself in. He may not be able to see beyond the three or four days his uncle is staying but he still accepts the fact that he has to accommodate his uncle. It might also be important that Sasha’s uncle does not see the fear and loathing in Sasha’s eyes. He appears to be oblivious to the chaos he is causing. In reality Sasha will have to rearrange his home in order to accommodate his uncle and his family. There is no perfect ending to the evening for Sasha. He knows he will have to listen to his family talking about old times and he will have to be polite and listen and even laugh at his uncle’s stories. The reader left to suspect that both Sasha and Varya will not allow for their own feelings of despair to take over. As far as Sasha’s uncle is concerned and knows. He is welcome in Sasha and Varya’s home. However the reality is very much different. Young love has been thwarted. However normality will return for Sasha and Varya in three or four days. Both characters just need to be patient with Sasha’s uncle and his family.