In the short story „A Problem” by Anton Chekhov, the readers see the tale development through the main character, Sasha Uskov. Uskov is „the young man of twenty-five who was the cause of all the commotion” (Chekhov). In the story, there is another character Uskov’s paternal uncle Ivan Markovitch who also could stand as the main character of the story. However, Checkov decided to choose Sasha Uskov to be the main character as, namely, he was the reason for the problem.
Perhaps, having decided about the main character Checkov has chosen Uskov because the author wrote the story about moral actions and thoughts of the particular person. Indeed, the conflict of the story is shown through the noble acts of Uskov. Firstly, Sasha „had cashed at one of the banks a false promissory note, and it had become due for payment three days before, and now his two paternal uncles and Ivan Markovitch…were deciding the question whether they should pay the money and save the family honor, or wash their hands of it and leave the case to go trial” (Chekhov).
Secondly, when Sasha has known that the problem was solved and uncles decided to pay for the promissory note in order to save „family honor”, he shamelessly asks his uncle Ivan Markovitch to lend him money: „Uncle, lend me one hundred rubles” (Chekhov). Moreover, this money was not for some good things. Uskov needed this money to go to the celebration of the name-day of his friend Von Burst at the „Bear”. As soon as, the main character understands that he is free, he „felt as though some uneasy weight were gradually slipping off his shoulder” (Chekhov). However, he doesn’t understand what he has really done and the possible consequences of his actions. Further, he begins to threaten his uncle that he will make the same thing tomorrow: „Won’t you?“ he kept asking, seeing that his uncle was still amazed and did not understand. „Listen. If you don’t, I’ll give myself up tomorrow! I won’t let you pay the IOU! I’ll present another false note tomorrow!” (Chekhov).
Throughout the whole story, the main character doesn’t think that he is guilty. Many of his friends do the same. He is sure that „he was not to blame; it was the fault of circumstances. It was true that the use of another person’s signature was considered reprehensible; but, still, it was not a crime but a accepted dodge, an ugly formality which injured no one and was quite harmless” (Chekhov). Only at the end of the story when he goes to his friend Von Burst he realizes that he is a criminal, „Now I see that I am a criminal; yes I am a criminal” (Chekhov).
Anton Chekhov presented Sasha Uskov as a fallen fellow whose moral actions are not understandable for the elder generation and are not acceptable in the society. The author ends his story showing that main character understands that he is a criminal. However, unfortunately, we do no know whether this thought would change him in the future.
Chekhov, Anton. „A Problem.” Read Print. 10 May 2009
Kingston, Jael. „Importance of Main Character in the Short
Story „A Problem“ by Anton Chekhov” Associated Content,
2008. 10 May 2009
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