Please find today’s 1974 word story here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/115.html
Today’s tale comes off more like a fable than a story. It is easy to like Maxim as a character. He’s an optimistic, high-on-life kind of guy. Things seem to be going great for him, but in literature that’s usually a bad sign. Chekhov gives indications early on that he likes booze with a pitstop to the bar. But at that point, it only improves his happy spirits. As readers, we see instantly that the wife is not built of the same material as Maxim. When he talks about the sun dancing, she responds (without mirth it is safe to assume) “It is not alive“. She reveals her true coldness a few paragraphs later. Lizaveta, I’m sure, believes herself to be more Christian than her husband, but her small minded selfishness displayed by callously sticking to an artificial tradition of not cutting a blessed Easter cake until they get home, even for a weak and starving man, puts her at odds with the teachings of Christ. In my mind she is further from Christ and closer to the devil even though she is upholding a traditional value. Having grown up in a similar, hypocritical environment, I hated Lizaveta for the rest of the story and wished Maxim a speedy divorce or at least that “he would send her packing to her father’s.” Alas they stuck together and misery follows when “…for the first time since his marriage he perceived that he wife was not kind.” Woe be the man with an unkind wife. The last line sums up the blindness that is universal in the self-righteous and ego-maniacal. “Lizaveta saw their ruin, but who was to blame for it she did not understand?” Here’s to an unexamined life and the cruelty that destroys their loved ones.