The Post by Anton Chekhov
In The Post by Anton Chekhov we have the theme of anger, fear, control, adventure and innocence. Taken from his Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Chekhov may be exploring the theme of anger. Throughout the story there is a sense that the student can notice just how angry the postman is. There is the fact that he is thrown from the cart and he scolds the driver and later the student learns that the postman is uncomfortable with taking extra passengers on the mail cart when it is against regulations. Even though the student is the postmaster’s nephew this makes no difference to the postman. How angry the postman actually may be is further noticeable by the fact that he doesn’t engage in conversation with the student. Who through his innocence cannot see that he is an unwelcome passenger on the mail cart. If anything the journey on the mail cart is an adventure to the student and he innocently assumes that it is likewise an adventure for both the driver and the postman. The student has no sense that for both the driver and the postman they are employed to do a job and not to enjoy the daily ritual of bringing the post to the train station. In reality the journey is not an adventure to either man but a job. An uncomfortable job at times.
Chekhov also appears to be exploring the theme of fear. There is sense that all three characters at stages of the journey to the train station are in fear of what the horses might do. The driver on one occasion even loses control of the horses. Something that annoys and angers the postman but excites the student. Which would place a further emphasis on the student’s innocence and his sense that the journey is an adventure. The fact that the story is set in the early morning and it is dark may also be important as Chekhov could be using the setting to place an emphasis on the mood of the story. Things do not go as planned during the journey to the train station, the postman’s mood is one of not only anger but he sees no point in talking to the student. If anything he keeps the student in the dark when it comes to any form of conversation. Preferring instead to remain silent. Also the fact that the driver loses control of the horses and the reader is left uncertain as to what might happen plays heavily on the dark mood of the story. However the student again sees it as an adventure yet the postman and driver are fully aware that they could have been killed.
Though only briefly mentioned the postmaster (student’s uncle) is an important character because it is on his instruction that the student is allowed to travel to the train station on the mail cart. If anything the postmaster is in control. It is him who is giving orders to the postman when it comes to taking the student to the train station. Even though both the postmaster and the postman know it is against regulations. This sense of authority may be important as the postman may feel as though the postmaster is being biased by allowing the student to travel on the mail cart. Even though both men are fully aware it is not allowed. The postman may also feel as though his own job is in jeopardy should those in authority see the student on the mail cart. The journey to the train station is dangerous enough without the postman having to worry about his job.
The end of the story is also interesting as the student cannot see that he has been the problem throughout the journey to the train station. At least in the postman’s eyes. This naivety is important as it further plays on the theme of innocence. It is as though the student does not understand the mechanisms of the post office. Again the journey has been an adventure for the student while the journey for the driver and postman has been one of despair. Perhaps the student is too young to understand the mechanisms of the post office or to see why he might have been considered by the postman to be an unwelcome passenger. Even when the mail cart arrives at the station the student and postman do not engage in conversation even though their journey together has ended. There is a sense of animosity coming from the postman towards the student. Yet the student is at a total loss as to why this may be. However in all likelihood the postman knows that he has a job to do, a job he is dependent on, and he simply does wish to engage with somebody who had no right to be on the mail cart. In reality the postman might work as he is instructed to work by his superiors but he does not have to like it.