1. Title : The Slanderer
2. Author : Anton Chekov
3. Characters : 1. Serge Kapitonich Ahineev (main character)
4. Settings : At the wedding feast of midle class of social environtment at mid night.
A Slander is a short story that reflects the behavior of society concerning on the public image. In the story, Serge Kapitonich Ahineev is an important writer gathering with other important people. He got into the kitchen with Marfa, the cooker, to check the sturgeon, and amazed by the delicious smell he smacked his lips emitting the sound of an ungreased wheel. Suddenly, he heard a voice on the next room; it was Vankin, wrongly interpreting the noise he just heard and making up a story about Ahineev kissing Marfa. He got out of the kitchen with the anxiety of what is people going to say and started telling everyone what has happened. Soon, other people knew the event, but as a wrong explained gossip. Even the headmaster talked to him about the rumor, and what is worse, Ahineev’s wife got mad because of the gossip. This story shows how Ahineev, and the rest of the people, is dependent on people’s opinion.
On the first place, Ahineev was a well-recognized man trying to fit in society’s standards for him. It says he was a school master when the headmaster was scolding him. Consequently he had to keep a good reputation and an unimpeachable profile. Also, it mentions at the beginning of the story that he “was marrying his daughter to the teacher of history and geography.” That means he wanted to get related with high positioned people, instead of running the risk of becoming related to someone in a low class. In the story it is clearly implied how much he cared about the public image he had towards the society and how well positioned he was in it.
He cared too much about the opinion that society had about him. This can be seen when he said “the beats will go and talk scandal. He’ll disgrace me to all the town, the brute.” He immediately freaked out and started telling everyone what had happened, and started to call Vankin a “queer fish.” Moreover, when he realized that everyone was aware of the rumor he felt like his world was tuning upside down, or as it says “like a man scalded with scalded with boiling water.” Ahineev was a very dependent on society man, and society’s opinion had a considerable role on his life.
Ahineev was so dependent on society that he did not even care about others as long as he kept his good image. When he tried to save the situation at the beginning he did not mind to insult the cooker, as he describes her “the woman is a perfect fright, like all the beasts put together.” He preferred disgracing an innocent woman before letting the gossip spread to the rest of the people. Furthermore, at the end he went to Vankin’s and started offending him, without having any basis to incriminate him. It was clear that Ahineev would rather walk over someone else than putting himself on risk of being marked by the society in a wrong way.
Serge Kapitonich Ahineev was a high positioned man with priorities on society and his concerning on people’s opinion makes him dependent on it. He was a good recognized man and he wanted to get related only with people as high-class as he was. Moreover, he wanted to keep untouched his image as an important man of society; he did not care at what price, he only wanted to fit on a good level of the society, no matter if that meant passing over someone else. Ahineev’s dependence on his public image lends him to go further than he ought, causing his own public disgrace.