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As readers, we have this assumption that a story has to end a certain way in order for us to truly understand what happens. However, this shouldn’t be the case. The reason is that while we read we are focused on what’s going on in the story so that we can understand it. Thus, in doing this, we should be able to recognize what’s going to happen at the end, as in the case in Gooseberries, because we are so focused on these details.
When it comes to Gooseberries, Anton Chekhov creates this ending by providing us with details to what Ivan is going to do in the near future. Even though he doesn’t specifically say what Ivan is going to do, Chekhov still implies that Ivan is gonna do something that will turn his life around. The reason we know this is because Ivan tells Aliokhin at the end of the story to “do good”, as in helping other people. In him saying this, it can be perceived that Ivan is aware of what he has to do in order to become a better person.
Also, right before he falls asleep, he asks God to forgive him for his actions. Ivan knows that he has done terrible things in his life, and because of this he is trying to change for the better. The reason he knows this is because he sees that his brother is living a life that he too once lived, and because of that terrible things are occurring all around him. For instance, when Nicholai’s wife died, Nicholai never once thought that he was to blame for her death, even though he would keep her half-starved just so he can save money in order to buy a farm. Because he gets so caught up in trying to achieve this, Nicholai becomes so oblivious to the people around him who are struggling. Thus, in Nicholai doing these things, Ivan is conscious of the decisions that he makes for now on, because he doesn’t want to continue to be like Nicholai.
In the end, as readers, we should stop having this mindset that a story has to end a certain way in order for us to truly understand what happens. The reason is because if additional information is added to stories where the ending is unfamiliar, then that information becomes inconsequential. For example, in Gooseberries, we know that Ivan is going to try to become a better man even though it doesn’t specifically say that at the end. The reason we know this is because Chekhov hints at this all throughout the story. Thus, there is no need for Chekhov to conclude the story with information that we already know.
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