Monday, April 25, 2011

Reader's Diary #706- Anton Chekhov: Easter Eve

Perhaps it's because of all those parables that Jesus told that I start looking for other messages and meanings in stories that claim a connection to religion. But, then, I've long complained that others have caught on to those old assumptions and pepper their stories and songs with vague references to God, heaven and so on just to give the impression of profundity.

"Easter Eve," by Anton Chekhov, is about a man waiting for a ferry to cross a river in order to attend an Easter service on the other side. On the way, the ferryman reveals that he is saddened this night as he is mourning the loss of his friend Nikolay, an under appreciated hymn-writing monk. To add insult to injury, he is not given any time off to attend to the funeral.

It's easy to find potential allusions and symbols in this story. The way the ferry appears seemingly out of nowhere suggests a supernatural element. Could Ieronim, the ferryman, be transporting souls across Hades? The under appreciated hymn writer? Could that be Jesus? The return trip across the river? Is that resurrection?

But none of it held up closely under scrutiny, not a supernatural interpretation and not a parable. It's fine, I suppose, from a purely literal short story reading but Chekhov seems to go out of his way to imply there is something more. But what?

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Unknown said...

I think we tend to automatically associate ferry trips with Charon, yes. But I guess sometimes a ferry boat is just a ferry boat.

It's been a while since I've posted a short story review. I'm starting to get the itch again. Maybe next week.

Loni said...

Sometimes literal short stories are good, but I supposed it would be difficult if it seemed like there ought to be something supernatural about it and it just doesn't happen.

I traveled to the dark side this week.

Teddy Rose said...

I think I might enjoy it as a short story without scrutinizing the symbolism.

I read 'The Green Book', which Carol's Notebook reviewed earlier this month: