#124 A Transgression

Find today’s 1912 word story http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/124.html

Travis review: 

In “A Transgression” we watch Miguev suffer through every philandering husband’s worst nightmare. His ex-housemaid and ex-lover is trying to extort five thousand rubles from him. She has given the following three threats, “I’ll leave the baby at your door, and I’ll have the law of you, and I’ll tell your wife, too…” So when Miguev finds a swaddled baby on his doorstep, given the set up, I felt without a doubt, as Miguev did too, that the child’s was his. (Why else would a baby be on his doorstep?) My thoughts went to the question of what is he going to do with the child, which is the majority of the plot. It is interesting that Miguev thinks more of his colleagues and them laughing at him more than the effect it will have on his wife. “What was he to do now? What would his wife say if she found out? What would his colleagues at the office say? His Excellency would be sure to dig him in the ribs, guffaw, and say: ‘I congratulate you!”…” The paragraph goes on with more thoughts of his co-workers and neighbors. She only comes back into his thoughts later on. I also feared, as Miguev walked to the merchant’s house besides a river, that the baby might be chucked into the water. Fortunately the collegiate assessor never entertained such thoughts. The baby in the story is also incredibly calm and noiseless. Almost putting it in league Nathan Jr. in Raising Arizona (but not quite). Because I was so invested in Miguev’s predicament, it never occurred to me that the baby might not be ex-housemaid’s. I’ve seen some of Chekhov’s twists coming or at least roll with them as a possibility, but I didn’t expect this. Especially after Miguez finally manned up, admitting his transgression to his wife. To see his wife, “Anna Filippovna, amazed and wrathful, was sitting as before, her tear-stained eyes fixed on the baby…” is heartbreaking and yet fascinating. She seems to have accepted the child with a complex and conditional set of emotions, but now the child will be taken away from her. Although we don’t know if Miguev’s excuses will work, I assume they won’t. Perhaps, if the couple does not divorce, Miguev may take in and support the housemaid’s child. Chekhov ends the story at a perfect time with a wave of emotional upheavals and even more questions than when the tale began.

Rating: 8

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