ABOUT LOVE | Summary | Question Answers | Heritage Of Words | Class-12 | Neb Hseb Notes

ABOUT LOVE | Summary | Question Answers | Heritage Of Words | Class-12

ABOUT LOVE | Summary | Question Answers | Heritage Of Words | Class-12

‘About Love’ is a story by Anton Chekov. Mr. Chekov is a humorous writer. In this story, he tries to show that love is different in every situation. In his support, he presents three anecdotes to prove that love is always different. It is quite an individual matter and an unanswered mystery. It can’t be generalized.

The first loves story is about a cook, Nikanor and his beloved, Pelageya. (Alyohin is the narrator of the story. He along with his friends – Ivan and Burkin – is taking breakfast on a rainy day). Nikanor comes to ask them what they would like him to prepare for dinner. Alyohin tells about him. He is a drunkard but he is loved by girl Pelageya. She doesn’t want to marry him but only wants to live with him. Alyohin puts a question mark: Why does Pelageya love Nikanor? One statement can’t explain love. Each love story is different, quite individual. In yet another love Alyohin was university of Moscow student and tells his own story. When he was studying at university, he loved a girl and lived with her. Every time he held her in his arms all she did was think about the money that he was going to give her and what she could buy

Bachelors are lonely, so they like to go to restaurants and other places and tell their stories to strangers (cities) or to guests (country). Alyohin went to a university for higher studies and it was very costly. His father had mortgaged his land to pay for his studies. So instead of becoming an officer or a teacher, he had to go home and had to cultivate his field to pay off the loan. But Alyohin had a dream to be an officer, to talk with intellectuals and to dress himself just like a lawyer. Anyway, being a graduate, he did not enjoy the tough peasant life.

Alyohin tells his own autobiography. He was elected as a judge in the district court to represent the problem of his village. So, he had to get to the town to participate on the bench of judges. In this way, during his visits, he became intimate friend of a judge, Dmitri Luganovich. Luganovich invited him to dinner where he met his wife Anna Alexeyevna. Anna was extremely beautiful and enchanting lady who already had a six-month old baby. She was only 22 years whereas her husband was over 40 and very stupid in the game of love. Anna and Alyohin fell in love in the first meeting. They became closer and closer with time. They seemed to complement each other. But, their status and social limitation deprived them of being life partners. In this way, Anna was disappointed in love and she suffered from nervous prostration. She was advised to shift to Crimea. Fortunately, Luganovich was transferred from the town to the Western Province.

It was the moment of departure. Anna was inside the train as it was about to leave the station. In the mean time, Alyohin came to say goodbye to Anna inside of the train. When their eyes met both of them cried and held onto each other. Alyohin confessed his love and kissed her. He realized the weakness of his love: too much reasoning. Anna was leaving the place forever, so they had to separate from each other.
Now, the rain has stopped by the end of the story. The two friends imagined how the lovers felt in the train and how interesting Alyohin’s life would be if he had devoted his life to scholarly pursuit or something that would ease his dull and placid life. Burkin who was acquainted with Anna thought she was beautiful.
All the three love stories show that love is different in each situation.

The second paragraph of “About Love” is a brief account of a violent love affair between two servants. Is it significant that Alyohin is the source of this anecdote? How does the anecdote contrast with Alyohin’s own story?
The violent love affair between Nikanor and Pelageya has been described in the second paragraph. Nikanor is an irritable, drunkard who doesn’t want to love her from the very core of his heart. He beats her and swears at her every time he is drunk. All that Pelageya can do is hide upstairs in Alyohin’s floor. But she loves him continuously. To Nikanor, love before marriage is a sin. On the other hand, she wants to live with him ‘just so’. It is significant that Alyohin tells this anecdote because the love affair between Nikanor and Pelageya makes a beautiful, yet disturbing contrast with his own affair with Anna. Alyohin-Anna love is of the intellectual and mature type. They have healthy respect for each other; they talk for long hours and sit silently. They even go to theatre together. But, they conceal their love jealously and timidly. Thus, they are unexpressive lovers. The love between the two servants is very simple and they confess their love openly and frankly but they have their own choices about marriage. Their love is not bound by marital relation at all. It is carnal pleasure, and this seems more so for Pelageya. This physical passion might seem an attraction between these two servants whereas Alyohin’s and Anna’s love is more of a spiritual kind. Both of them reason more and are victims of their own indecision. They couldn’t express their love and their love didn’t provide them satisfaction rather it brought unhappiness, separation and pessimism.

How does the account of the occasion and the setting in which the narrative occur affect our understanding of Alyohin?

Alyohin shares his love story with his two friends, Ivan and Burkin. They are confined to Alyohin’s country house as the weather isn’t good for going outdoors. When Alyohin begins to share his unfinished love anecdote, the sky is gray and the trees are drenched in rain. The weather is such that one could go nowhere but sit back at home to tell or listen to stories. After Alyohin’s love episode is over Chekov comes up with a very beautiful setting: the rain stops and the sun comes out. Outside, there is a fine view of the garden and the river, which was shining in the sunshine like a mirror. Alyohin’s confinement to the country house suggests restricted space he created upon himself by his promises and reason. On the contrary, the setting after Alyohin’s story is finished gives us the impression that Alyohin will finally find freedom and love, and one last opportunity to untie from a hard situation he has put himself into.

Alyohin is said to rush around like a squirrel in a cage and this judgment is echoed in the final paragraph of the story. What is the significance of this repetition?

Alyohin’s comparison to a squirrel in a cage has been made by the Luganoviches and his friends, Ivan and Burkin. He remained a bachelor because he was torn between love and duty. He had lost Anna because of his commitment to his farm that his father had mortgaged to ease his study expenditure. Also, he reasoned as to the nature and consequences of his love. This put him into a disadvantage; he became indecisive and restricted. Thus, the cage symbolizes Alyohin’s unfavourable situations. As a man of high intellect, he also had to think of the complex love situation he had got into because of his unusual love affair with Anna. By observing the limitation of life, they can’t express their love openly. So, love is concealed in their hearts. Similarly, a squirrel is locked in a cage but not on its own volition as is the case with Alyohin. Alyohin is a scholar, a graduate from a Russian university but he has to work in the field like a labour. He is not satisfied with his occupation. So, his condition is just like that of a squirrel’s. He rushes here and there between the district court in the town and his village but he doesn’t get any anywhere. The repetition of the statement signifies his lonely, restless and miserable condition.

More on About Love Anton Chekov


This text is about love. The author tries to show that love is different in every situation. Three stories are told in order to prove that love is always different. Also Alyohin thinks that love is a hindrance and a source of dissatisfaction and irritation.

First Love Story (Paragraphs 1& 2): physical and violent love
Alyohin, Burkin and Ivan Ivanych are in a country house eating breakfast. Nikanor, the cook, comes to ask the men what they would like him to prepare for dinner. Alyohin tells a story about Nikanor. Pelageya, who is a beautiful girl, loves Nikanor. But Nikanor drinks a lot of alcohol and beats her. So Pelageya does not want to marry him. She only wants to live with him. But Nikanor thinks that it is wrong for a man and woman to live together if they are not married.

Discussion About Love (Paragraphs 4, 5, and the beginning of 6)
Alyohin says that you can’t understand love. Why does Pelageya love Nikanor? You cannot make one statement to explain love. Each story is different – individual.

Second Love Story (End of Paragraph 6): materialistic love
Alyohin tells a story about himself. When he was studying at university, he loved a girl and lived with her. Every time he held her in his arms all she did was think about the money that Alyohin was going to give her and what she could buy.

Descriptions of Bachelors (Paragraph 7)
Bachelors are lonely, so they can talk to other people. Alyohin is a bachelor and he wants to tell Burkin and Ivan Ivanych a story about himself.

Third Love Story (Paragraph 8 to the end): spiritual love/rational love
Alyohin went to university. But his father had borrowed a lot of money to pay for his studies. So instead of becoming a teacher or working in an office Alyohin had to go home and work hard in the fields to pay off the debts. He did not enjoy working on the farm.
Alyohin was elected to be a judge. Sometimes he had to go into town for a court case. He would lead a very luxurious life and come across educated people. He made many friends too. While he was in town he also met Luganovich, who was another judge. Luganovich invited Alyohin to his house for dinner. At dinner Alyohin meets Luganovich’s wife Anna Alexeyevna, who had had her first baby only six months before. She was young, beautiful, kind intelligent, fascinating woman. Alyohin and Anna Alexeyevna fell in love with each other. Every time that Alyohin went into town he would go to visit Anna. Sometimes they would talk or go to the theatre together.
Then Luganovich and his family had to move. Alyohin went to say goodbye to Anna Alexeyevna inside of the train. They both cried and held onto each other. Alyohin kissed Anna Alexeyevna and told her that he loved her. But because Anna Alexeyevna was leaving they had to separate forever.

Setting of the Story
Before Alyohin starts his intimate love story, the weather outside was not good. The sky was gray and the trees were drenched with rain. It was a kind of weather that the narrator said made people go nowhere or do anything except tell and listen to stories. After Alyohin shares his painful and haunting love story to Ivan and Burkin, the rain stopped and the sun came out. Outside, there was a fine view of the garden and the river, which was shining in the sunshine like a mirror.
The former setting helps us to understand Alyohin’s hopelessness and helplessness as he can’t go out of his farm and can’t do anything to better his poor condition. However, the latter setting where the rain stopped and sun came out hints at the better days in store for Alyohin. It expresses his freedom. Indeed, Alyohin feels very light after having shared his story with two of his friends.

Alyohin’s Character
Alyohin was a bachelor whose character borders on the tragic side of life. He is the central character of the story alongside Anna Alexeyevna who happens to be his love interest. He lived alone on a farm in Sofyina, in Russia. He was a kind man as he gave a very good treatment to his servants and peasants who had tended his farm. Alyohin was a university graduate but because his father had mortgaged the property to fund his studies, he was compelled to tend to the farm to pay off the debts instead of taking up a vocation that fitted his study. Because he was “a bookish fellow” he took to farming after much intense disgust for it. He was elected honorary justice of the peace and came to the town certain times of the year. While in town, he felt he was in the company of educated people like doctors and lawyers. This proves that he was sophisticated and cared for fine taste and fine people. He was also a warm and influential man as the Luganovich’s were very affected by his character and studiousness. Even their two children were very delighted to meet him during his visits. The Luganoviches and his friends, Ivan and Burkin compare him to a squirrel in a cage because he used his knowledge very seldom. He was committed to fulfilling his promise and duty to father. To the Luganovich household, he was a “noble fellow”. His various activities with Anna show that he was eager to please her and make her feel happy. He used to help her with parcels when he was at her house.
However, he was a failure when it came to love. His love with Anna failed because he reasoned more than committing himself to loving her. He reasoned that his love for Anna would affect her married life, her children’s, and the whole household’s. He timidly and jealously concealed his love. He was the victim of his own indecision. It took him separation from her to realise this truth. He later tells his friend that love should be realized from what is higher or else one should not reason at all. He seems to offer candid dissection of love as was prevalent in Russia. He feels that love is a hindrance and a source of dissatisfaction and irritation.
Thus, Alyohin with all his fine attributes is a tragic character.

Memorable quotes:
1. “Love is a great mystery. Everything else that has been written or said about love is not a solution, but only a statement of questions that have remained unanswered. The explanation that would fit one case does not apply to a dozen others, and the very best thing, to my mind, would be to explain every case separately without attempting to generalize. Each case should be individualized, as the doctors say.” Alyohin: About Love. Page 14.

2. When we are in love, we never stop asking ourselves whether it is honorable or dishonorable, sensible or stupid, what this love will lead to, and so on. If that is a good thing or not, I don’t know, but that it is a hindrance and a source of dissatisfaction and irritation, of that I am certain.” Alyohin: About Love. Page 15

3. I realized how needless and petty and deceptive was all that had hindered us from loving each other. I realized that when you love you must either, in your reasoning about that love, start from what is higher, more important than happiness or unhappiness, sin or virtue in their usual meaning, or you must not reason at all” Alyohin: About Love. Page 23

Some possible questions:
-Why did Alyohin and Anna try to conceal their love? (3)
-What was the cause of Anna’s sickness? What was the result of it? (3)
-What thing of Anna would make Alyohin feel new and extraordinary every time they met? (3)
-Why did Anna visit her mother or sister’s house later on? (3)
-What comments does the narrator make about bachelors? (3)
-Describe the love story as Anna would tell her fellow patients at Crimea. (10)
-Is it justified that Alyohin should remain a bachelor in spite of his high learning and rich love experience? (10)
-Provide a character sketch of Dmitri Luganovich. (10)

-Discuss how the three love stories are the same and how they are different?
-Discuss how the stories prove the idea that love is different in every situation.
-In your own words tell the love story of Alyohin and Anna Alexeyevna
-Alyohin compared to a squirrel in a cage. What is the significance of this comparison in the story?
-What kinds of love does Chekov discuss in About Love?
-What is the significance of the setting of the story? What are its implications on Alyohin?
-Alyohin says love is a hindrance and a source of dissatisfaction and irritation. Explain this in the light of his relationship with Anna Alexeyevna.
-How did Alyohin define love?
“About Love” is a timeless story of forbidden love which the famous Russian storywriter and dramatist Anton Pavlovich Chekhov describes with consummate artistry. The story mostly set in the Russian countryside of Sofyino has the theme of love being different in every situation. Other themes in the story are lack of communication and alienation. The present story shows different kind of love.

Raj Kumar Gautam, English Faculty, Arniko HSS, Biratnagar, Ashar 22, 2070



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Neb Hseb Notes : ABOUT LOVE | Summary | Question Answers | Heritage Of Words | Class-12
ABOUT LOVE | Summary | Question Answers | Heritage Of Words | Class-12
ABOUT LOVE | Summary | Question Answers | Heritage Of Words | Class-12
Neb Hseb Notes
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