Narrative structure is important to the development of a story. It is the structural framework of a story and without it, the reader would not be able to grasp the story fully. Anton Chekov, the author of “The Darling” uses distinct episodes to structure his story. The different episodes develop the plot smoothly and the reader is able to better understand the piece of work. Each episode is different in many ways but all the episodes are linked by one common character.
That one common character is Olenka, her actions in each episode seems to have a repetitive nature.
The repetitive, but varied episodes tie the whole story into one world. The first episode was based around the marriage of Kukin and Olenka. In the beginning of the story the narrator gave the reader insight on how Olenka is not able to exist without loving someone. The narrator tells the reader that in the past Olenka had loved her papa, her aunt, and her french master.
When they left her life she had no one to love and that is why she fell head over heels for Kukin in a short amount of time. During the marriage Olenka became engulfed in Kukin’s world.
For example, before Kukin and Olenka got married Kukin would always complain about how ignorant the public was about his theater and Olenka would listen to his comments silently. During their marriage Olenka would also complain about the public. “Like him she despised the public for their ignorance and their indifference to art”(236). This shows that before she got married to Kukin she didn’t have any opinions of her own because if she did, she would have talked back to Kukin instead of just silently listening to what he had to say. The first episode ends when Kukin dies of an illness.
The second episode begins when Olenka decides to marry Vassily Andreitch Pustovalov, her neighbor. After church one day . After their walk together Olenka could not stop thinking about him. Just like with Kukin, Olenka gets married to Pustovalov in a very short time. During the marriage Olenka’s thoughts and opinions are identical to Pustovalov’s opinions. “If he thought the room was too hot, or that business was slack, she thought the same”(238). This also happens in the first episode when Olenka’s opinions were identical to Kukin’s.
Olenka also forgot her life with Kukin because when her friends asked her go to the theater she said that she did not understand the use of theaters and that they were worthless. When she married Kukin her opinions of the theater changed; she thought it was the most important thing in her life. During her marriage with Pustovalov, “It seemed to her that she had been in the timber trade for ages and ages and that the most imortant and necessary thing in life was timber”(238). Pustovalov was part of the timber industry.
As a result, when they got married Olenka became obsessed with all different types of timber that she would even have dreams about them. The third episode occurs when Pustovalov dies and Olenka begins to spend more time with Smirnin the veterinary surgeon. This certain episode has a lot more variation than the previous two. The difference between the relationship she had with Smirin and the other men was she was not married to Smirnin. Although she was not married to him she had no one else in her life that she became attached to him anyway.
For example, “she repeated the veterinary surgeon’s words, and was of the same opinion as he about everything”(239). When Smirnin’s veterinary friends would come over for supper, Olenka would try to talk to them about the cattle plague and other veterinary concerns. This annoyed Smirnin and he would say “’I’ve asked you before not to talk about what you don’t understand. When we veterinary surgeouns are talking among ourselves, please don’t put your word in. It’s really annoying’”(240). Smirnin would angrily tell Olenka to stop talking because she did not actually know what she was talking about.
In the other two episodes Kukin and Pustovalov would never call out Olenka for talking about something she did not really know. The fourth episode begins when Smirnin leaves for Siberia and Olenka is left completely alone. In this episode we begin to see that without a companion by her side she has no thoughts of her own. This becomes apparent when the narrator says, “She saw the objects about her and understood what she saw, but could not form any opinion about them, and did not know what to talk about”(240). Without a man to help formulate her thoughts, she could not have any.
It was as if Olenka never learned how to think for herself. Olenka’s thoughts were always came from someone else rather than herself. Even though the point of view is in the third person, the narrator has some insight into the mind of Olenka. In this episode her appearance begins to change as well as her mind. She becomes thinner and plainer and never leaves her house. Thus, she loses the relationships she had with the townspeople. They stop calling her “The Darling” and the townspeople would ignore her while she walked on the street.
Her life took a turn for the better when Smirnin returns back to town. This is when the fifth episode begins. Smirin says that he has reconciled with his wife and he has brought his wife and son with him. She offers Smirnin to stay in her house while she took lodgings somewhere else. Olenka began to spend a lot of time with Smirnin’s son, Sasha. In this episode she had a different type of love than she had with the men in the previous episodes. “Her heart warmed and there was a sweet ache in her bosom, as though the boy had been her own child”(241).
The form of love she began to have with Sasha was motherly love. Saha was technically the new man in her life. She was now able to form opinions, but they revolved around Sasha’s work in high school. In the first two episodes the men she married were both owners of businesses. Kukin was the owner of an open air theater and Pustovalov was in the tiember industry. In both episodes she helps both men take care of their businesses. When she was married to Kukin, “ She used to sit in his office, to look after things in the Tivoli, to put down the accounts and pay the wages”(236).
When she was married to Pustovalov she “… sat in the office till evening, making up accounts and booking orders(238). ” The episode where she is all alone shows how attached she gets with people she is in love with. The other two episodes were similar because she was never married to Smirnin and had a motherly love towards Sasha. Smirnin and Sahsa were both annoyed with Olenka unlike the other two. The way Olenka becomes attached to all the men in each episode ties the episodes together into a whole.
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