Chekhov,  In the Ravine (1900)


I.                   The Village of Ukleevo and the Tsybukin family:


·        What are our first impressions of the town and its people?

·        The Family:

o   Grigory Petrovitch Tsybukin, the patriarch and owner of the shop; 

o   his eldest son Anisim, a policeman in another town;

o   Stepan, the deaf, sickly youngest, married to

o    Aksinya, the vivacious young woman with a nose for business;

o   later, Tsybukin marries Varvara, whose generosity brightens the home;

o   and eventually Lipa is the peasant girl who marries Anisim

·        How do the Tsybukins make their living?

·        What are Tsybukin’s attitudes towards the other townsfolk?

·        The other bourgeois family in town are the Hrymins who own the two cotton factories. (They have a telephone too!) They like to compete with Tsybukin by racing droshkies around town, running over calves if they wander into the street.


II.                 Anisim’s Betrothal


·         Anisim, the eldest returns home to visit, and the family decides that since he is now 28, it is time for him to get married.

·         The family chooses Lipa, a beautiful, young peasant woman from a neighboring village to be his bride. (Aksinya had come from a poor family as well.) Lipan and her mother, Praskovya, come to live with the Tsybukins.


III.              The Wedding


·      The Tsybukin prepare for the wedding reception by ordering new clothes (which they pay for with overstocked inventory, not cash).

·      Anisim arrives and distributes coins to the family as wedding gifts.

·      Anisim brags about his friendship with Samorodov, his fellow policeman (and counterfeiter.)

·      The day of the wedding arrives and the reception has been stocked in a way which will display the wealth of the Tsybukins.

·      At the church, Lipa is overwhelmed by all the people and the strange clothes she must wear.

·      At the reception, Elizarov the old carpenter (aka ‘Crutch’) gets drunk and happily describes the new bride as a fine mechanism, put together nicely.

·      Lipa sits alone, still dazzled and is ignored by her new husband.

·      The Hrymin Juniors arrive and get everyone, including Tsybukin, to do Russian kick dances.

·      Aksinya looks like a viper as it becomes clear that she and one of the Hrymin Juniors have something going.

·      Anisim catches a thief and imprisons him in the bedroom where Lipa is changing.



IV.              Anisim’s Plan


·      Anisim’s ‘crisis of faith’

·      He explains that he and Samorodov are planning a deal that will make or break him.

·      His leave taking with Lipa is abrupt and awkward.

·      Lipa is relieved and brightens considerably after Anisim is gone.


V.                 The View from the Ridge


·      Returning from a village religious festival, Lipa tells Crutch about living with the Tsybukin family. The food is plentiful, but she is always uneasy among them.

·      Rumors have it the the Hrymin brothers are vying for Aksinya’s affecton. One has promised to build her a brickyard.

·      Praskovya relishes a pear for the first time in her life.

·      Looking down on the town from the ridge of the ravine. For a moment she and Lipa feel  as if life might hold something better in store for them than they have ever imagined.

·      Father discovers that the coins that Anisim handed out as wedding gifts were counterfeit.

·      In the barn in the moonlight, Aksinya cannot sleep.

·      Lipa thinks that the moonlight is so beautiful that truth and justice must someday be realized on earth.


VI.              Lipa’s Baby


·         Anisim has been imprisoned, awaiting trial, for counterfeiting.

·         Tsybukin is now aging rapidly.

·         Aksinya now openly is working with the Hrymins at the new brickyard, and Lip spends her days caring for her new baby boy, Nikifor.

·         News arrives that, despite his father’s bribes,  Anisim has been sentenced to six years in Siberia.

·         Varvara convinces Tsybukin to plan for his grandson’s support, and Tsybukin makes the infant the heir of the brickyard.


VII.            The Catastrophe


·         When Aksinya discovers that the brickyard has been willed to the baby Nikifor, she flies into a rage, and she runs into the kitchen where Lipa is doing the laundry and tosses scalding water on the infant.


VIII.         Return from the Hospital


·         Lipa walks home from the hospital with her dead infant in her arms. She stops at a pond and looks out at the night.

·         Two peasants with carts offer Lipa solace and a ride back to Uleevo.

·         When she gets home, Varvara and Tsybukin blame Lipa for not taking better care of her babe. Aksinya demands that she leave the house the next morning.


IX.               Epilogue


·         Aksinya consolidates her control of the family businesses.

·         Lipa has survived: final view.