Chekov, the 19th century representative of Russian realist school, is famous for his technique of provoking his readers to ask question.
In the story ‘Vanka’ the protagonist Vanka is only a nine year old orphan boy. He should be enjoying his childhood with his kiths and kins at this age, should receive good education and get protection from his family. But here poor Vanka is sent to the shoe maker as an apprentice. He is actually a non paid slave there. He has to work hard without enough food and rest. Vanka has to suffer great mental and physical torture not only from his master but from his mistress too. Moreover the senior apprentices make fun of him and compel him him to do things he dislikes most. As Vanka himself says he “cries every time” . So pathetic is his condition.
All these are revealed by the letter he managed to write to his only relative, his grandfather, Konstantin Macarich who is a night watchman ‘at some gentle folk Zhivarev’. He begs his grandfather to take him home from the hell. He says that he would be no more otherwise.He has a vivid memory of his village and the people who patted him there, his mother Pelageya, who recently died and made him an orphan, Miss Olga Ignatyevna who taught him to read, write, count, and even to dance quadrille, one eyed Yegor, and his grandfather’s dogs Kashtanka and Eel.He suffers nostalgia at Moscow and wants to escape from the shoemaker’s house.He offers a lot of helps to his grandfather which he feels may tempt his grandfather to take him from there. He says ” when you die, I will pray for your soul like I do for my Mummy.” And also, “ you can flog me as hard as you like.”
The questions arouse in the readers minds are why he was send to the shoemaker as an apprentice at this early age while his grandfather is alive and working, Why there is no reference of Vanka’s father anywhere in the story and why the people at Alyakhin’s home, who are religious and faithful behave so cruelly and most of all whether he would be taken by his grandfather, because lack of education prevents him to write the address correctly are left unanswered.