Grisha by Anton Chekhov

In Grisha by Anton Chekhov we have the theme of innocence, patriarchy, control and fear. Taken from his The Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story it becomes clear to the reader that Chekhov may be exploring the theme of innocence. There is no doubting that at two and a half years old Grisha is innocent. Something that is made clearer to the reader when Grisha sees the two big cats in the park. The reality is they are not cats but dogs and Grisha has never seen a dog before nor does he have the language to really express what he sees. This may be significant as Chekhov appears to allow for the reader to enter Grisha’s mind and explore his innocence.

Another example of innocence in the story is Grisha’s relationship or the lack of a relationship with his father. Grisha thinks his father is a mystery and does not really know what he does. If anything Grisha can’t see what purpose his father serves. However Chekhov by introducing the father into the story is exploring the theme of patriarchy. How the male leads the family. After all the father’s study is off limits for Grisha and it is his mother and the nurse who look after him. It is them who are taking the lead while the father leads the family as he sees fit. He is never questioned by Grisha or others in the story. Which suggests that the father has complete control. Something that Grisha himself lacks. The world, particularly the outside world, is all very new to Grisha and he does not really understand the world around him. For example he searches for his Aunt in the house not knowing that she has her own home to go to. That is how cocooned Grisha’s world is.

There may be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The setting of the man and cook’s home is dark and Grisha does not really know what is happening. Why the nurse and the cook and the man are laughing. He has no understanding at all. However the reader realizes that all three are getting drunk. Which may leave some to suspect that the nurse is acting inappropriately. The soldiers marching down the street also play a significant role in the story as Grisha copies them and beings to march as well. This highlights how influenced Grisha is by the world around him. The piece of glass that Grisha wants to pick up is important as it represents shiny, attractive things to Grisha. However he is afraid to pick the glass up after the nurse slapped him for picking up the orange. If anything Grisha is amazed by the world around him and his perception of things is limited. Again Grisha does not have the language yet to express how he feels.

The end of the story is interesting as Grisha is very much afraid. His adventures with the nurse and the environment of the man and cook’s home has frightened him. He simply cannot decipher what has happened to him. It is as though the outing with the nurse has been too much for Grisha. Something that his mother does not really understand. Which may be the point that Chekhov is attempting to make. He may be suggesting or highlighting not only how difficult life and the world around a child can be but also how difficult a parent or adult might find it understanding a young child. Grisha does not need castor oil. He needs an explanation and assurance that everything is alright.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "Grisha by Anton Chekhov." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 27 Nov. 2022. Web.

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