Chekhov’s story Gooseberries is composed of two narratives where one story is enclosed with another. The inner story is introduced by Ivan Ivanovich, the protagonist, who decides to tell about his brother Nicolay. At the end, the author transfers to the outer story to address the audience and frame the entire literary work. This frame structure is aimed at attracting the readers’ attention to the overall idea and context within which the heroes are placed.
The narrative frame also prepares the audience for more important ideas. In whole, Chekhov’s concreteness enables readers to construct their own vision of the story and its main idea; while referring to details, the author attempts to disclose some common notions situations, and atmosphere of the time to engage the reader into the overall narration. Therefore, the outer narrative serves to introduce and construct a basis and context of the work whereas the inner story presents more concrete details building up the main theme.
The author’s preference to use a two-framed structure is aimed at presenting his outlook on the essence of life. According to author’s view, “…human being tend arbitrarily to fetter themselves with superfluous encumbrances – ideology, ambintion, love – thus renouncing man’s most precious bright-right, freedom” (Chekhov 10).
At this point, the author provides the readers with the story of Nicolas who is ready to sacrifice life for gooseberries, the veritable dream of all his life. While describing his life in detail, Chekhov intends to emphasize the wrong choices made by the main characters as well the consequences these wrong choices might have. The narrative also shows the limited nature of human wishes and desires; all people are bound with their desires and dreams and they do not dare to go beyond the established boundaries.
Both narratives reflect the hero’s failure and overwhelming frustration with life. Just like Nicolas, Ivan Ivanovich also expresses his disappointment with the life her has led and the story about gooseberries makes him feel more depressed and reserved.
Therefore, the outer stories can be perceived as the present situation, the result of what happens to people who confine themselves to making choices whereas another situation enlarges on the initial preconditions of all human actions, the triggers that make people think their dreams and goals are the most important in their lives.
It should also be stressed that the first narrative serves as a strong amplifier of the character development enabling the reader to track the changes in telling the stories. Making use of a frame technique, Chekhov engages the readers to face the reality and understand the surveillance of human thinking.
Hence, the inner story is more realistic; it presents more real facts and true feelings of the speaker (Isenberg 21). In contrast, the outer story is aimed at describing the appearances, which are often deceptive. Such disaccord generates more contrast and the effect of the delayed story because the truth will never be conceived by shallow people.
In conclusion, Chekhov’s Gooseberries is a deeply philosophical story whose structure also bears a specific meaning. Two narratives presented in the work enable the readers to understand the concept of reality, the past and the present, the preconditions and the results. The structure also provides a deceptive feeling concerning the people enclosed within the outer story through their perception of the inner narration.
Cheknov, Anton Pavlovish. The Russian Master and Other Stories. UK: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.
Isenberg, Charles. Telling Silence: Russian Frame Narratives of Renunciation. UK: Northwestern University Press, 1993. Print.