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Vocabulary in Home

Vocabulary Examples in Home:

Text of the Story

🔒 18

"home..."   (Text of the Story)

The Russian word “дома” (doma) roughly translates to “at home.” Chekhov’s short story can be found with both variants of the translation. Some English translations title the short story, “Home,” while others title it, “At Home.” The latter title should not be confused with Chekhov’s 1897 story under the same name, first published in Later Short Stories, 1888-1903. The word, “home,” has several important connotations in the context of this story. First, it signifies a place of dwelling and shelter. Second, it connotes a sense of familiarity between individuals. In Chekhov’s story, the sense of home stems from the father-son relationship which strengthens over the course of the story.

"jurymen..."   (Text of the Story)

A juryman is synonymous with a juror, or member of a jury. Yevgeny draws parallels between the courtroom experience, where jurymen hear elaborate “speeches” (which Chekhov places in quotes) and how children learn from folklore and literature.

"embellishments..."   (Text of the Story)

An “embellishment” is a detail added to a statement or story to make it more interesting or entertaining. Here, Yevgeny laments that morality must be dressed up in the form of stories and anecdotes. He would prefer morality to come in “crude form,” or in other words, as laws and decrees.

"pensively..."   (Text of the Story)

The adverb “pensively” describes thinking in a dreamy or wistful manner. While Yevgeny’s story is devoid of any creativity, Seryozha still looks up to his father with wide-eyed wonderment and curiosity.

"scrupulous..."   (Text of the Story)

The adjective “scrupulous” describes acting in a way that is considered morally correct. Yevgeny’s pithy remark demonstrates his respect for those who try to understand people unlike themselves. While some people resort to “thrashing” children who misbehave, he says that other people learn to reflect and empathize with them instead.

"savages..."   (Text of the Story)

The word “savage” has a couple of meanings in this context. First, it describes a wild, undomesticated animal, and second, it refers to a primitive, uncivilized person. Both definitions have unpleasant social associations. By comparing children to “savages,” Yevgeny reduces them to animalistic, barbaric, and primitive others.

"hurdy-gurdy..."   (Text of the Story)

A hurdy-gurdy is an instrument played by turning a crank handle. In the original Russian, Chekhov uses the word “шарманщик” which translates to “organ grinder,” a type of hurdy-gurdy. Seryozha’s train of thought, unlike his father’s linear way of thinking, jumps from one topic to the next. Here, his mind wanders to the organ grinder and the dancing girl.

"thrashed..."   (Text of the Story)

The verb “to thrash” means to beat someone or something over and over again. Yevgeny uses this word to describe how “urchins” were beat up when they were caught smoking. He repeats the word three times throughout this paragraph, perhaps to insist on the severity of the punishment.

"urchin..."   (Text of the Story)

The original Russian word Chekhov uses here, "мальчуга,” is a diminutive form of the word “boy.” Garnett has translated it to “urchin” which refers to a mischievous and often-poorly clothed youngster that annoys others. Both the Russian term and its English translation describe a child who was caught smoking in negative terms.

"reveries..."   (Text of the Story)

The word “reveries” is synonymous with “daydreams.” This passage suggests a dichotomy between the two main characters’ ways of thinking. The nervous pacing heard overhead stands in stark contrast to the lulling, monotonous, dream-like piano scales. Perhaps these two opposing sounds mirror the father’s logic against the son’s vivid imagination.

"monotonous..."   (Text of the Story)

Of a sound, the adjective “monotonous” describes unvarying volume, tone, or pitch. Monotony connotes both repetitiveness, as well as soothing, calming sounds, such as those heard in a lullaby. The monotony of the scales, heard overhead, contribute to a calming, homely feel.

"solace..."   (Text of the Story)

The noun “solace” refers to comfort during a distressing or uncomfortable period. Yevgeny uses this word to describe the sense of peace he feels when he returns home from work. He describes work in very linear and ordered terms, as thinking “in one direction” for days on end. In contrast, he describes being home as a time for relaxation and reflection.

"Even very intelligent people did not scruple to wage war on a vice which they did not understand...."   (Text of the Story)

The verb “to scruple” means to hesitate to do something that one thinks may be morally wrong. Here, Yevgeny makes the distinction between those who fight what they do not understand and those who accept what they do not understand. At the beginning of the story, Yevgeny’s behavior mirrors those of the headmaster; he is unable to accept that his son would take up smoking. However, as the story progresses, he resigns himself to the fact that he cannot always control others. As a prosecutor, who is constantly arguing in support of his clients, this realization is hard for him to accept.

"flogged..."   (Text of the Story)

The verb “to flog” means to beat repeatedly with a whip. Yevgeny recalls his childhood, where students were “mercilessly flogged and expelled” for smoking. This violent practice highlights the hypocrisy of teachers and adults: they do not understand the dangers of smoking, yet they violently punish the guilty children anyway.

"caricature..."   (Text of the Story)

A “caricature” is a picture or representation of a person in which certain major characteristics are exaggerated to create a comic or grotesque effect. When Yevgeny learns that his son has taken up smoking, his first response—to imagine his son as a pipe-smoking caricature—is a lighthearted one. He quickly changes his mind, however, and recognizes the serious effects of smoking.

"pernicious..."   (Text of the Story)

The adjective “pernicious” describes something that causes harm in an insidious way. The governess believes that Seryozha is actively causing self-harm by taking up such a “bad and pernicious habit.”

"expostulate..."   (Text of the Story)

The verb “to expostulate” has two different meanings: to reason with someone in a friendly manner for the purpose of dissuasion, or to debate or argue disapprovingly for the purpose of dissuasion. In this context, the governess uses a more aggressive, chastising method of expostulation in an effort to get Seryozha to admit to his bad behavior.

"the little cherub..."   (Text of the Story)

The original Russian word here “karapuz” (карапуз) more literally translates to a little fellow or toddler. Garnett has translated it as “cherub,” which means a child-like angel. Both choices illustrate how Yevgeny Petrovitch views his son as a young, innocent little boy.

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