The Darling

The Darling Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Weather (Motif)

The weather appears as a constant foil to whatever the characters of the story desire. The story opens with Kikun complaining about how the rain will affect attendance at this theatre, and the cold kills Olenka's second husband, Pustolatov. Finally, it is crucial to the development of Olenka as a character without any opinions or ideas of her own that the story opens with Olenka sitting outside, observing the coming rain clouds and feeling indifferent.

The Garden (Symbol)

The garden at Olenka's house is the site of much of the story's action. Typically, a garden represents a haven for life and even abundance, and indeed, when things are good, Olenka's garden becomes a joyous place, especially when she and Pustovalov are together. When Pustovalov dies, Olenka stays inside, abandoning the garden, and in turn, life itself. We see the garden in a positive light when Smirnin shows up, as Olenka spends her time there with him drinking tea, but after Smirnin leaves, Chekhov likens Olenka's total lack of opinions and ideas to that empty yard.

Sashenka (Allegory)

Sasha's appearance in the last part of this story sparks Olenka's maternal instincts, and in turn their relationship becomes an unusual allegory for the bond between mother and son. After all, Sasha is not her son, but rather the son of a woman who has basically abandoned him. When Olenka takes to calling Sasha by the affectionate term Sashenka, Chekhov seems to be showing that the all-consuming maternal infatuation with the child is the least-strange type of infatuation Olenka has taken up so far, as it's a common female experience.