The pregnant Olga Mikhaylovna plods through the name-day party she is throwing for her husband, Peter. The party is interminable; she is uncomfortable and tired of being pleasant. As Olga walks through the garden for a moment of peace, she notices her husband has also left the house and is talking with one of their guests, the lovely Lyubochka; she interprets their conversation as lovemaking. Has her husband only married her for her money? Doesn't he love her? She decides he is unfaithful and resolves to confront him.

Later, everyone decides to go to the island for tea. But it begins to rain and they rush back. Much later, when the guests leave, Olga and Peter argue in their room; they are both dead tired. Suddenly, Olga goes into a difficult and prolonged labor that results in a stillborn child. In the last section, Olga is "muzzy from the chloroform," but happy to be alive. Peter sincerely protests his love.


In this perceptive story, Chekhov portrays the emotional tension and conflict between Olga and her husband, two quite ordinary people who are unable to communicate very well with one another. The weather is hot and humid; the party guests are vain and argumentative.

Olga herself is irritable and overwhelmed. While acutely aware of the hypocrisy of society, she feels that she has to keep a stiff upper lip. Peter, who is portrayed as somewhat of a buffoon and a liar, seems almost totally unaware of her emotional needs and provides no support. Presumably as a result of their argument, Olga goes into labor and delivers a dead baby. In the end they are faced with the brutal facts of nature, shorn of pretense.


First published: 1988. Translated by Ronald Wilks.

Primary Source

The Party and Other Stories



Place Published

New York