The Darling


Olenka was quite a darling. She was quiet, and always had an imaginative smile. Unfortunately, she had a personality defect. Her problem was the fact that she didn?t have a personality of her own; it was always that of her lovers.
In the beginning of the story she was married to Kukin. When she was with Kukin, he complained about the rain on his garden. He said, "Almost every evening it rains. It is simply awful! The public doesn?t come, but I have to pay the rent just the same, " (172). This foreshadows what is going to happen to Olenka when Kukin dies. She worked hard at taking on his beliefs and opinions, and mastering his way of thinking. She acted as a mirror of her husband and it was her only way of life. Then when he died, her mirror was broken. This left her not knowing what to do cause she had no personality anymore because it died.
After Kukin?s death, Olenka did nothing else but cry and dwell on the fact that she had no one to love. As she mourned, she said, " my precious, my darling! Why did I ever know you and love you! You poor heart-broken Olenka is all alone without you,"(174).
Then Pustovalov came along, the timber merchant, and she once again fell in love. This changed her life from the theater into a new life of business. Her husbands ideas were hers. If he thought the room was too hot, she thought the same.
At one point, she tried so hard to act like the one she loved and it drove her third husband away. Her third affair was a veterinarian who was there for her after Pustovalov died. He became quickly annoyed with Olenka because all she did was copy him and agree with him. She would interrupt his meetings with the other veterinarians, and tried to add in her comments that she thought would contribute to their conversations. Actually, she had no idea what she was talking about. Olenka really couldn?t think exactly like the veterinarian because she had no training. This concept was a hard one for her to face. But after her interruptions she would sweet-talk Smirnin. Easily, he would forgive her. However, her sweet-talk did not work for long. He became so annoyed with her that he left her for quite a while.
When Smirnin returned, he brought his wife and son. Olenka became very attached to his son, Sasha. She felt that he was neglected and took him under her wing. All she was doing was using him for somebody to love. Sasha helped Olenka to become a little more compassionate. It really showed when he is sleeping. Unfortunately, her behavior towards him was not helpful. She tried to convert him into being something that he could not be. Being alone was nearly impossible for her. She would follow him all the way to school, which was embarrassing to him. Even as he slept, he was in her thoughts.
As she watched him laugh and play, she realized what had gone wrong in her life. In a way, she wanted to recreate her childhood by controlling his. Olenka realized she simply had no rational life of her own at all. If in fact this was true, should we blame her for the actions that she took towards her loved ones? If she changed at all throughout the course of the story, it was most likely for the better.
Olenka can be compared with Miss Emily from "A Rose for Emily." They both don?t want to accept changes in there life. They both have their minds set in one direction, and they live for one thing. Olenka lives for sucking the lives out of her lovers, and Emily is with a dead guy whom she is obsessed about. By the end of both stories the two characters learn that their lives are going in the wrong direction and that they want to fix them.