Seventeen year old Volodya and his mother visit the home of their wealthy acquaintances, the Shumihins. Everyone teases the awkward and shy young man. Volodya is infatuated with Nyuta, the Shumihins' cousin, a married woman of 30 "with rosy cheeks, plump shoulders, a plump round chin, and a continual smile on her thin lips." Volodya encounters her as she returns through the garden from bathing. She teases him to speak. Finally, he blurts out, "I love you" and grasps her around the waist. She laughs and frees herself.

Later, Volodya hears Nyuta and his mother laughing about the incident. He remains at the house overnight and has another encounter with Nyuta, this time in her room. When Volodya and his mother return home, he goes to his room, puts the muzzle of a revolver in his mouth, and kills himself.


This early Chekhov tale (1887) takes us inside the mind of an infatuated adolescent--his father is dead, his mother is distant and vain, he acutely experiences his own awkwardness and lack of self-worth. "Volodya" presents a convincing example of impulsive adolescent suicide.


Translated by Constance Garnett.

Primary Source

The Tales of Chekhov, Vol. 3: The Lady With the Dog and Other Stories



Place Published

New York



Page Count