Find today’s 3086 word story here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/127.html
This is a character examination of a sad alcoholic father. Chekhov does not judge, but lets the man bare his dignity and trample over it throughout the course of a few hours. Old Musatov’s self-depreciating monologues to his mostly silent, patient, and accommodating son, Boris, propel the story. Musatov vacillates from begging for booze money to bragging about successes that did not happen to sorrow about his lies and previous behavior around his children. There are touching scenes throughout as Boris guides his father back home, including a scene where he tells his father that his boots don’t fit. Musatov is wise enough to see through Boris’ lie as Chekhov gives us this gem of a line: “Your boots were too small, because your heart is too big.” Musatov refers to his common wife as a virago, which is defined as a domineering, violent, or bad-tempered woman. I imagine that beyond the boozing and begging, Musatov living with a woman is also a black mark of shame against the family name. It also becomes apparent that Musatov was sent on a mission by the virago to get money from his son as her first words are, “Well, did you get it?” It is pathetic to see the father turn on his patient and loving son, referring to him as “young man” instead of Borenka and the way Musatov “ruffled up his feathers, snorted with dignity…” But that is completely in character for a man who is a walking catastrophe. He is not evil, but a lost soul drowning in the bottom of a bottle.
(Another great line from Musatov: “…there was a stink enough in the flat to make the devil sick.“)