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Travis review

This is a slice of life story told on a Shrove Tuesday. It starts with Pavel Vassilitch, the father of the house, waking up to the beckoning of his wife and ends with a hurried dinner before the fast. Chekhov throws in minutiae of the day including mice in the walls, Chinamen tea caddies, and articles in the Neva, among other many other details as the minutes slowly tick past. What really struck me the most was spoilt child Styopa. He is in high school although he acts like a whiny adolescent. “a high-school boy in the second class, with a peevish expression of face and tear-stained eyes. With his knees raised almost to his chin, and his hands clasped round them, he is swaying to and fro like a Chinese idol and looking crossly at a sum book.” Something about Styopa’s insolence combined with Pavel’s back-bending tolerance and good-natured tutoring made me think of the Millennials. I’m in the Generation X category and have hit the age where I’m looking down at the following generation and shaking my head at them in disappointment (at times) as I’m sure the Baby Boomers and other generations did to me. Styopa, who I assume is an only child, rules the family with his whims. Through Pavel’s rambling recollections of his school days, it seems that he is trying instill some sort of masculine lore to inspire Styopa into becoming something beyond his mopey character. “And what a set of young ruffians, regular cut-throats, we were, but yet we were magnanimous, you know! There weren’t any boys like you in my day, they were all great hulking fellows, great strapping louts, one taller than another.” It is all in vain. As Chekhov documents time slowly ticking away before the days of television and internet while the family waits for supper, I can understand the boredom of a young man. Yet when Styopa declares that he is going to sleep, sending the family in a panic, his selfness enraged me. I wanted him to go without supper and live off of “Lenten food all through the fast.” The kid needs to learn (says this grumpy old man), but he won’t as the parents accommodate their offspring-dictator. With kids like this, what is going to happen to the future of the Russian gentry?

Rating: 6