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Thewanderingjew

Thewanderingjew

Was the Darling simply a reflection of others?

The Darling - Anton Chekhov

The Darling, Anton Chekhov Sometimes, a story, even a short story, requires several readings to appreciate, and I think this is one of them. This is a short story about a young girl who was beautiful in her youth. Attractive to many, she earned the nickname of Darling. She loved with abandon, falling in and out at will. Yet, fate seemed always to leave her on her own. She feared having no one and eagerly sought ways to resolve that loneliness. As time passed, although she was once the Darling, in her old age she was ridiculed and avoided by those who had once ogled and loved her. Still, seeming to be resilient, she solved her problems and remained happy. For most of her life, people came and went, yet they didn’t seem to need much attention from her, even when they captured her heart and/or lived with her. When a man with whom she had a relationship, the Veterinarian, abandoned his child Sasha, to Olga’s care, she finally had someone who could not leave her; he needed her more than she needed him. The story left me with several questions: Did those in her life resent their own thoughts coming back at them since she only seemed to echo their ideas as if they were her own? Did she not have any ideas of her own? Was she only capable of being the reflection of others? Although the notes indicate that her nickname indicated flightiness, in translation, was she capable of being anything more than their echo? The last sentence gave me pause because I wondered who voiced it and why? Did whoever voiced the last sentence in the story want to shut her up, leave her, escape, perhaps, to have some peace, or did that speaker want to strike out at her for her lack of ability to be her own person, for overwhelming everyone with her need for company and to assume a part of their self as hers? Was someone crying for help, trying to escape from her clutches? Was it too hard to listen to her echoing their own thoughts since she had none of her own, and perhaps, they did not like what she reflected about them? Was there any abuse somewhere in someone’s background to reflect the feeling of anger I sensed in the comment? Does the reader ever really learn who Olga actually was or was Olga merely a reflection of others, a mirror for others to see themselves, like it or not?