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"A Problem" by Anton Chekhov

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Erin Wang

on 30 September 2015

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Transcript of "A Problem" by Anton Chekhov

Plot Diagram
By: Kylie Miller, Halen Carbonel, & Erin Wang
The external conflict is that Sasha's family has to decide between paying off Sasha's forged IOU VS everyone else being aware of the crime he committed."No it doesn't mean that I am a crminal..." thought Sasha."And it's not in my character to bring myself to commit a crime. I am soft, emotional.... When I have the money I help the poor...." pg.260
"A Problem" by Anton Chekhov
The internal conflict is Sasha telling himself that he isn't the only one at fault in this situation VS him being aware that he is a criminal at heart and that the whole situation is his fault but he does not care.
A young man named Sasha Uskov cashes in a false IOU at a bank that puts his family name in jeopardy when the due date to pay the money back arrives. Sasha sits outside and listens while his three uncles - Ivan Markovitch, the Colonel, and the Treasury Official - are discussing whether or not to pay the note and clear his name or to let him face trial and butcher the Uskov name. Though the Colonel wants to leave Sasha to his lawful punishment but Ivan convinces him help pay for the debt. Ivan tells Sasha the good news while they are leaving, which causes Sasha to think about a party going on that night. He then forces Ivan to give him one hundred rubles, thus proving that he was, in fact, a criminal.
Point of View
"A Problem" is written in third-person point of view.It uses pronouns such as he, she, they, etc. The story is third-person limited because we aren't told the other character's feelings. We only know what Sasha thinks and feels.
Truth or Reality?
At the end of the story in Sasha's reality, he comes to realize that he is a criminal. The truth is that Sasha will most likely remain a criminal for the rest of his life because he seems too stubborn to change. He won't change if he doesn't want to and it seems like he doesn't want to change. Also, he wasn't given any punishment to help influence him to change.
Dynamic Characters vs Static Characters

Main Characters:
Sasha Uskov
in debt
forged a promissory note (IOU)
on the verge of ruining his family name

Ivan Markovitch
Sasha's friendly uncle
is always there to help Sasha

The Colonel
Sasha's harsh uncle
wants Sasha to go to court
Sasha Uskov has cashed a fake IOU and put his three uncles in a difficult situation. They are discussing what to do in a private room while Sasha sits outside and listens.

The Colonel, one of Sasha’s uncles, wants Sasha’s fate to be decided in court. Ivan Markovitch and the Treasury Official, Sasha’s other uncles, wish to quietly cover up the case and pay off the fine. Sasha becomes angry when he listens to what his uncles are discussing about him and tries to convince himself that he is not, and never will be, a criminal. Later on, Ivan Markovitch appears in the hall and invites Sasha inside so he can say his side of the story, but Sasha doesn’t have much to say. After Sasha returns to the hall, the Colonel's wife comes to him and pleads for him to beg his uncles to help him, but he does not. After the meeting finishes, Ivan tells Sasha that they will just pay the fine but only if he go to the country to work. As they are about to leave, Sasha remembers that there is a holiday party that night that he needs money for.

Sasha forces his uncle Ivan to give him one hundred rubles for the party later on that night.

Ivan gives Sasha the money because Sasha threatens him. Sasha walks away happily since he got what he wanted.

As Sasha walks away he realizes, "Now I see that I am a criminal; yes, I am a criminal."

Sasha Uskov will most likely remain a criminal for the rest of his life because he never faced the consequence for his wrong doing and has the mindset that he can get away with just about everything.
Honesty vs Personal Gain

Discovering your true self

All actions have consequences

Protecting family honor
Ivan Markovitch is a dynamic character. During the story Ivan's character only changes one time but at the end of the story. Throughout the story Ivan is mainly focused on trying to convince the other uncles to pay off the IOU and let Sasha off the hook. At the end of the story, Ivan realizes that Sasha might just be a criminal, because the story states that Sasha petrifies and horrifies his uncle.

The Colonel is a static character. Throughout the story, the Colonel is determined to send Sasha to court for his wrong doing. The Colonel is stubborn and does not change his negative view on his nephew until Ivan Markovitch persuades him to pay off the fine.

Dynamic AND Static?:

Sasha Uskov can be a dynamic character. At the beginning of the story it says that "Sasha was indifferent, and was only disturbed by one circumstance; the other side of the door calling him a scoundrel and a criminal.” (pg259) Along with that, the story said “criminal” is a dreadful word and is only used for murderers, thieves, robbers, and wicked and morally hopeless people. “And Sasha was far from being all that.” (pg260) But at the end of the story after Sasha received the one-hundred ruble note from his uncle Ivan, his character changed and he finally realized he is a true criminal.

Sasha can also be a static character. We do not know all of his thoughts but it is likely that he knew he was a criminal deep down inside and him taking the one-hundred ruble note from his uncle Ivan validates his identity as a criminal. He is a criminal at the beginning of the story and is still at the end.

The BIG Question
Full transcript