Find today’s 6338 word story here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/126.html
In the past when Jewish characters have been presented in Chekhov stories, they have been depicted in a less than positive light (Mire). When his characters mention Jews in dialogue or song it has been very anti-Semitic, though I imagine accurate for time and morals. But in today’s story, Chekhov portrays a sympathetic Jewish man who has lost his identity. He also survived a horrible mining accident that causes him to be scared to be alone in the dark. The narrator takes in an “uprooted” Jewish wanderer for the night during a pilgrimage at the Svyatogorsky Monastery. Alexandr Ivanitch has gone from Judaism to atheism to Christianity. His quest for knowledge has set him on a restless, unpredictable path. Chekhov invests a lot of time in the setting of the story as well as in Alexandr Ivanitch’s plight. It feels a lot more like a journal entry than actual fiction. Without knowing much background of this story, I can’t help but feel that Chekhov has been to “the foot of the Holy Mountains on the banks of the Donets” during the festivals of St. John the Divine and St. Nikolay. It also seem like he has either met a man like Alexandr Ivanitch or heard the story of the wanderer who says “...there is only one religion possible for a thinking man, and that is the Christian religion…” with wavering conviction. To Alexandr’s credit, although his soul is uneasy, he chases an optimistic dream of being a teacher. Ultimately this a story about two people meeting and the impression one makes on the other. There are questions of religious identity too. Overall, the story felt longer than it should have been.