(Question and Answers for At Home by Anton Chekhov. Taken from An Anthology of Short Stories for ICSE Schools,India)
1.Give in your own words the theme of the story ‘At Home’
The theme of this story is about a lawyer Eugene Bikovsky and his son Seriozha. The theme is about how a father tries to reform his son and get him to stop smoking. Seriozha governess had told his father that she had noticed Seriozha smoking twice. Eugene Bikovsky who was a lawyer tries to use powers of oration to convince his son to stop smoking. It is then he realizes that it is one thing to deal with other lawyers and criminals and another thing to deal with your own children. It is about how a mother can easily make her children understand because she is able to feel weep and laugh with her children. Nothing can be accomplished with children using logic.
It is a story about how Bikovsky is able to convince his son to stop smoking by conveying the importance of not smoking through a short story which has a lasting impression on Seriozha. It is about how the truth becomes more acceptable when presented in the form of a story or poem and like medicine must be sweet to be acceptable to a patient, the truth must be presented in a manner that is becomes acceptable.
2.How should a child be taught at home? Give illustrations from the story ‘At Home’ to support your answer.
A child should be taught with love and affection at home. When Bikovsky tried to tell his son to stop smoking his son did not understand the importance of this at all. However, when it was explained with love and affection if the form of a story, Seriozha understood it quickly. Further, a child cannot be given the logic of the truth just like the way it is given to adults. A child had his own perception of the world. In a child’s world a man can be taller than a house. A child has to be explained things which is acceptable to the child. In order to make Seriozha give up smoking, his father had to tell him a story. This story explained the reason for not smoking to Seriozha much better than a direct instruction and logic.
3. Draw a pen picture of the character of Eugene Bikovsky.
Eugene Bokovsky was a rich lawyer who lived with his only son. As he was always busy with his work, he had a governess to take care of his only son.It appears that usually he had very little time to spend with his son. However, he as affectionate to his son telling him bed-time stories. We can also say that the was a concerned father because as soon as the governess told him of his son’s smoking habit – he called for his son and tried to counsel him not to smoke. He was concerned about the health of his son. He also realized how difficult it was to bring up a child without the presence of the child’s mother. He was not skilled at dealing with a child and was not aware that a child cannot be addressed that way an adult is addressed.
4. There is a story within a story. What is the significance of the story about the old king and his son?
The significance of the story of old king and his son is that this story, within the story, help Bikovsky to convince this son to stop smoking. Using a story where he is represented by the King and the kings son represented by Seriozha, Bikovsky convinces his son that the King got into trouble only because his son did not listen to him and did not stop smoking. This story conveyed to Seriozha that his father could also get into trouble,like the king , if he did not stop smoking.