Please find today’s 3964 word story here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/164.html
In today’s short story, Chekhov contrasts two characters who are extreme opposites working on a ferry barge in Siberia… which is a step away from being in the lowest rung of hell. The Tatar represents innocence and virtue compared to the world weary cynicism and cruelty of Canny. As Siberia is a land of exile, it is a if this story were set in prison with Canny serving the first twenty of a life sentence and the Tatar recently interned. The Tatar is overwhelmed, depressed and lonely. He wants to bring his wife and mother to live with him. Canny tries to set him straight with the story of Vassily Sergeyitch, an official who believes “people can live even in Siberia!” A sort of anything is possible optimism. Of course, this phrase is twisted into a cruel joke towards the end. The Tatar’s response of outrage, calling Canny “a beast” and “a dead carcass,” is a powerful moment. It came from a pure, indignant heart, similar to the nine year old Yegorushka calling Dymov a bully in The Steppe. The difference is that while the peasants in the steppe felt bad, the hardened ferrymen of Siberia only laughed at the Tatar.