29 pages 58 minutes read

Anton Chekhov

At Home

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1897

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Story Analysis

Analysis: “At Home”

Anton Chekhov's short story "At Home" is an exploration of the themes of happiness and the impossibility of land reform in late-19th-century Russia. Vera is initially excited about the prospect of living in the countryside with her aunt, but as time goes on, she becomes disillusioned with the monotony of rural life. Full of knowledge and idealism from her schooling, Vera longs for excitement and is disappointed by the narrow-mindedness of the locals. Her unhappiness is compounded by her awareness of the social and economic inequalities that surround her: She sees the poverty and deprivation of the peasants and feels helpless in the face of their suffering.

Though Vera considers various ways she might introduce reform to her estate and to the village, she is completely incapable of acting on her ideas. In a deeply ironic moment, Vera screams at the servant Alyona, emphasizing the ease with which she and others of her class can take advantage of those whom they employ; Vera has a bout of rage unrelated to Alyona’s actions, but because Vera has no other outlet for her anger, she uses Alyona as a scapegoat. Alyona has no means of retaliation and ends up suffering the fate of nearly all the other servants on the estate who have been fired and/or beaten for trivial reasons.