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Hello Betting Readers,
Chekhov is considered by many to be one of the greatest short-story writers. "The Bet" is very short, but it has a lot packed into it. I suggest that you read it twice.
The first time, read it as you might read a newspaper article, that is, read straight through it and don't concern yourself with what it means or what themes it might be conveying. Enjoy the story.
The second time through read slowly. You might want to underline things or write in the margins—I do this all the time—which doesn't mean you should—but it helps me remember things and quickly find the passages that I thought were important. Look up words, people and places you don't know. These can sometimes be a clue to the story.
The story is short enough that you might enjoy reading it to your family to get their reactions to it.
Then think about it. What is this story about? The greatest short-story writers have layers—I don't mean layers of skin, mine is quite thick—but layers in their stories. The surface layer is the story itself, what it is that is happening in the story—the events. Under the surface other things are going on. There may be things implied by the events. For example, if you walk into your house and everything in the living room is gone, the event, for you, is that you walked into the living room to find everything gone. If you stopped there you might get strange looks from the rest of your family because they're all screaming, "The thieves took everything!" For them the event implied that someone broke into the house—until your Uncle James jumps out and yells, "Surprise!" because he moved everything out of the living room into the garage as a joke. Ha, ha.
Hope this helps.
©2005-2013 Glen Draeger (all rights reserved)
Millstone Education: World Literature / http://www.millstoneeducation.com/worldLit