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On receiving the telegram informing her of his death, Olga is devastated. For some time she is lonely and heart-broken. She then meets Pustovalov, a timber merchant who helps Olga to get over the loss of Kukin. She begins to like him and marries him. Once again Olga adopts his beliefs and opinions as she did when she was married to Kukin. She finds happiness for the second time. But a tragedy strikes again as Pustovalov is struck by illness, from which he never recovers. After Pustovalov’s death, Olga has an affair with Smirnin, a veterinary surgeon. Smirnin who is separated from his wife has a son. This time too Olgas views are the views of Smirnin. Meanwhile Smirnin gets relocated, and Olga again is alone. She stays alone for many years and continues to have no views or opinions of her own. Few years later, Smirnin returns with his wife and son and looks for a place to stay. Olga offers them her place. She begins to love Smirnins son, Sasha, as her own child. Once again, Olga finds someone to love, and gets a chance to share views and opinions. However Sasha feels suffocated by her excessive love. At the end of the story we find that Olga has no intellectual life that she can call her own. She is always agreeing and following the opinions and views of the persons she loves. She does not have any personality of her own and finds happiness in reflecting the beliefs of her husbands or lovers. Olga is shown as trying to fill her empty life with the love, thoughts, views opinions of others. So it can be said that the story is a negative commentary on the life of a woman who has no identity of her own but only reflects the beliefs and opinions of others.
Chekhov’s short stories and plays usually do not have strong plots and focus more on characterization than action. Olga is the protagonist of the story. She is attractive, compassionate and eager to help people. She cannot make up her mind on any
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