#153 The Devil and The Shoemaker

Find today’s 2662 word story here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/153.html

Today’s fantasy story is quite funny. We have a poor cobbler who feels persecuted by the weight of his poverty and constant humiliation. At first Fydor comes off like a cantankerous, petty fool, but when he walks out on the street he is teased by the public. “Students, officers, and merchants walked behind Fyodor, jeering at him and crying: “Drunkard! Drunkard! Infidel cobbler! Soul of a boot-leg! Beggar!” It is like he is the living embodiment of the Joseph Heller line “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” Like many of the stories about men selling their souls in order to have something they badly desire, Fydor gets his chance. Throughout the story, I was not impressed with Fydor’s intelligence or behavior, but that he was able to live the life of a rich man without actually selling his soul was an impressive feat. He tells the devil “…when you ordered a pair of boots from me I did not ask for the money in advance. One has first to carry out the order and then ask for payment.” Once he became a rich man I wasn’t sure where Chekhov would take the story, but he settled with the moral that you can’t change who you really are. A cobbler is a cobbler regardless of his wealth.

Rating: 6


Like most of these morality tales, the person who gets what he desires is rarely satisfied.

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