29 pages 58 minutes read

Anton Chekhov

At Home

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1897

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Character Analysis

Vera Ivanovna Kardin

Twenty-three-year-old Vera Ivanovna Kardin is the protagonist of "At Home." She is described as “[h]ealthy, clever, beautiful, and young […]—she had hitherto lacked nothing in her life but just this space and freedom” (Part 1, Paragraph 5). Vera comes from a privileged background, and at the beginning of the story, hopes to create a happy, peaceful life on her country estate.

Vera belongs to a long tradition of Chekhov protagonists who leave the city only to be disillusioned by provincial life. She is initially excited about the prospect of living in the countryside and sees it as a chance to escape the confines of her boarding-school life. However, she quickly realizes that, for her, rural life is tedious and unstimulating. Thinking of the people who enter her social circle, she believes that “nowhere else [had she] met people so indifferent and careless as these” (Part 2, Paragraph 15).

Vera is disturbed by the poverty and oppression she sees among the local peasants and the house servants that her aunt mistreats. Her extensive education and reading have made her feel a responsibility to help them, but she has no idea how to go about doing so. When she attempts to find common ground with the peasants, she finds them “strange and uninteresting” (Part 2, Paragraph 17).