43 pages 1 hour read

Anton Chekhov

The Duel

Fiction | Novella | Adult | Published in 1891

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Important Quotes

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“It would be as difficult for her to do without me as to do without her powder or her curl-papers. I am for her an indispensable, integral part of her boudoir.”

(Chapter 1, Page 37)

Laevsky makes a poignant observation, on par with the descriptive prowess of Chekhov’s own narrator, regarding his self-victimization, which amounts to his feeling like an object. The irony is that Laevsky must come to realize his own subjectivity by taking responsibility for himself. He treats himself as an object to avoid culpability even as he laments that he is treated by Nadyezhda Fyodorovna in this way—that is, as an object. At the same time, however, Laevsky wants to be more than merely useful, which is precisely what he will also have to learn to be.

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“Samoylenko was moved to pity, and probably because Laevsky reminded him of a helpless child, he asked: ‘Is your mother living?’”

(Chapter 1, Page 39)

This line is an example of Chekhov’s use of psychological realism, wherein a character’s speech is motivated by unspoken thoughts of which even they are not aware. In suggesting that Laevsky possibly “reminded [Samoylenko] of a helpless child,” the narrator suggests a motive for Samoylenko’s subsequent questions regarding Laevsky’s mother.

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“One could only there—not here—be honest, intelligent, lofty and pure.”

(Chapter 2, Page 48)

Laevsky dreams that he will become the person he wants to be merely by virtue of the place he chooses to live—an example of how Laevsky attempts to avoid taking responsibility for his own circumstances.