Find today’s 5,034 word short story here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/167.html
This story is a bit disappointing considering the expectations that come with a title like “Terror.” On the surface, this could be seen as a tale about two close, intellectual friends who have chosen different career paths and the stronger one takes the weaker man’s wife. But it’s interesting that Chekhov framed the story through a callous, unsympathetic, first person point of view. Through this unnamed narrator, readers get to feel firsthand the pity, jealousy, and overall awkwardness he has for his friend Dmitri — who has given up city life in Petersburg to become a farmer — as well as his lust for Dimitri’s wife, Marya. Dmitri is pitiable as we see him killing himself on the farm, even though he backs his actions with nihilistic philosophy. “I am afraid of everything… What chiefly frightens me is the common routine of life from which none of us can escape. I am incapable of distinguishing what is true and what is false in my actions…” Chekhov also introduces a character with a wonderful name, Forty Martyrs. Unfortunately, not much happens to him except that he continually loses jobs due to alcoholism and regrets his actions when he is sober. I hoped for more from him, like he would interrupt the narrator’s affair or do something more dramatic, perhaps a selfless act of martyrdom, rather than than mumbling in a drunken stupor. As for the “terror” that Dmitri feels for being unloved while loving earnestly, the opposite feeling effects the narrator has he escapes from both Marya’s love and Dmitri’s intense friendship.