Plot in The Lady with the Pet Dog

Ending: Much of the strength of “The Lady With the Pet Dog” can be attributed to its ending, which in many ways is not an ending. The underlying issues in the relationship between Anna and Gurov—their inescapable marriages, the geographic distance between them—are never resolved. The final sentence leaves us with ambiguity: “it was clear to both of them that they had still a long, long road before them, and that the most complicated and difficult part of it was only just beginning.” We are left with the confusion of their situation, both the love and terror of it. Such an ending was considered extremely unusual in Chekhov’s time. Yet, because of Chekhov’s enormous influence on contemporary American literature, one can find numerous examples of the open-ended conclusion in modern short stories.

Plot Examples in The Lady with the Pet Dog:

Part I 1

"with the dog..."   (Part I)

At this point, the dog has been referred to as a pet dog, a little dog, and now, simply, the dog. The original Russian uses the word собачка (sobachka), which is a diminutive form of the standard word for dog. The dog's role is the story is limited and primarily serves as a way for Gurov to use it to his own advantage in order to introduce himself to the lady.

"her eyes were shining..."   (Part II)

Anna has realized that her husband isn't coming and feels a surge of freedom. Chekhov uses this description to indicate that she knows what Gurov wants from her, and that she has decided to comply at this point. The following description of her nervous and giddy behavior further again reminds us of her innocence and how this is likely a new experience for her.

"But how far they were still from the end..."   (Part III)

Gurov's reaction here sharply contrasts with how neatly he thought their affair had ended when she left Yalta. Not only does Chekhov show us how Gurov's attitude towards Anna has changed in this section, but he also reveals how Gurov will continue to pursue her since he believes their story isn't finished. Chekhov revisits this idea of uncertainty at the end of the story.

"one like her...."   (Part III)

In this paragraph, we notice a marked shift in Gurov’s attitude. While earlier in the story, he was certain his affair with Anna would not affect him in a meaningful way, we now see that Gurov can’t stop thinking of her. This shift drives the action of the second half of the story, as Gurov realizes that Anna Sergeyevna means more to him than he had previously thought.