Grisha by Anton Chekhov: Summary and Review

the text "grisha written by anton chekhov" written next to the portrait of anton chekhov

Chekhov’s short story Grisha explores the innocent and colorful world of a toddler. The heartwarming story is one of his earlier works, published in 1886.

It is also available as part of a short story collection called Fifty Two stories published by Alfred A Knopf, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

Grisha: Summary and Plot Analysis

The story is a day in the life of a two-years-eight-month old boy named Grisha, living in a family with mama, papa, and nanny. Nanny has taken Grisha into a park on a sunny day. 

His whole clumsy figure, stepping timidly and uncertainly, expresses the utmost perplexity.

The park is very different from anything he is used to, living in a small room, every corner of which he is aware. His perception of everything is so primitive and adorable.

In this new world( the park), where the sun dazzles his eyes, there are so many papas, mammas and aunts that you do not know who to run to.

The toddler notices all sorts of people in the park and is increasingly perplexed. When not doing that, he is copying what he can. When he sees two dogs running in the park, it is only natural that he does that too. A tall man wearing a coat with shiny buttons soon comes up to greet his nanny. There is so much stimulation in this new surrounding that Grisha starts laughing.

Soon after, the man with the shiny buttons and the nanny visits someone who has food and drinks ready. Grisha also gets to eat a little pie and drink a tiny sip. They return home, and Grisha tells his mama everything in the indecipherable babble language. 

He had trouble sleeping as all the experiences of the day were too much for him to bear. He begins crying.

Grisha: Review and My Thoughts

The story is fantastic! One of the best portrayals of a toddler’s world I have read in a long, long time. It’s just not possible to go through this story without your heart being warmed, your soul being hugged. The innocent take of a toddler is such a breath of fresh air.

Grisha’s family only has a pet cat, so look how he describes a dog-

Two big cats with long muzzles, tongues hanging out and tails sticking up, run across the boulevard.

Now tell me that it doesn’t melt your heart!

Look how observant the kid is:

Mama looks like a doll, and cat-like Papa’s fur coat, only the fur coat has no eyes or tail.

Not to say, wise beyond his years (wink, wink)

The nanny and mama are understandable: they dress Grisha, they feed him, and put him to bed, but what Papa exists for – nobody knows.

In the evening, he simply can not fall asleep. Soldiers with besoms, big cats, horses, a piece of glass, a basin or oranges, the shiny buttons – it all gathers in a heap and presses down on his brain. It tosses from side to side, babbles, and finally, unable to bear his agitation, he starts to cry.

So, that is the reason, people! You have heard it straight from the horse’s mouth. Less stimulation equates to a peaceful night’s sleep.

On so many occasions when I have spent time reading in a park, my attention inadvertently goes to the toddlers, some of them visibly confused upon seeing so many adults. Many of them run towards their neighbors, calling them Papa and Mama while their actual parents are standing right next to them; poor things have no clue. 

Inevitably everyone around the kid breaks into laughter – the kid, his parents, and the neighbors. It’s just an incredible feeling to witness that. Kids’ laughter is infectious and, more often than not, is entirely involuntary. 

I know that I was that Grisha too, what seems like ages ago now, and sometimes I wish I never stopped being one. He is the happiest teacher in the world.

But you know that already! Because you were one too 😛

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