Joined: Mar 2010 Posts: 261 Location: Wheaton, Illinois, USA
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Re: The Carriage
Unlike the other short stories in this collection (I do not include Taras Bulba which is really a novella) "The Carriage" is straight forward denunciation of phony braggadocio. It is not a all subtle. The ending is a foregone conclusion as soon as the main character tells about his carriage. The charm of the story is its use of symbols of perceived but unrealistic social position. The setting, a nothing little town in the middle of nowhere, adds to the punch and the unlikeliness of a cavalry officer of general rank making a headquarters there fits the moral perfectly.
"Freedom is feeling easy in your harness" --Robert Frost
Joined: Apr 2008 Posts: 1655 Location: Hampton, Ga
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Re: The Carriage
The cultural differences between early Russia and present day America become more lucid the more stories I read from this collection. It seems getting ahead, wanting more, and ambition are not virtues that are rewarded. Most of the stories in which people want more wind up with them getting less than what they started off with. The carriage is a prime example of somebody who wants to increase his social status and winds up making a huge blunder that is sure to set him back indefinitely. The coat was a story about a man who threw in all he had to get a small piece of luxury and that was stolen from him. The nose had elements of a man with vanity who was deformed and now lost because of it.
These stories really pick on people. They make fun at others expense and rely on personal failure to make their impression. It's pretty horrible.
None of these stories has a happy ending for the man who works to increase his own lot. It's defeatist writing that promotes nothing.
People continuously gripe about their lot but none of these characters can actually succeed in improving any aspect of it.
Joined: Feb 2010 Posts: 60 Location: Chicago
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Re: The Carriage
I think that the role of the wife in this story was quite an interesting one. Clearly, she's about as vain as her husband, considering she decides that she looks beautiful that day and then spends a large amount of time sitting in front of the mirror. But she seems to be the only person who cares at all about anyone else's happiness: she specifically doesn't wake her husband up because she knows he had a long night last night. The only thing she gets for taking her husband's concerns into consideration is yelled at by him later.
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