Literature Study GuidesThe Cherry OrchardAct 4 Firs Is Left Behind Summary

The Cherry Orchard | Study Guide

Anton Chekhov

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The Cherry Orchard | Act 4, Firs Is Left Behind | Summary

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Summary

Lopakhin asks Varya what will happen to her. She tells him she is going to become "a sort of housekeeper" for another family. Lopakhin says he is keeping Yepikhodov on. He fails to propose marriage to Anya and leaves. She weeps. Trofimov welcomes the future as they all depart. "Hail to the new life!" he exclaims.

Left alone Lyubov Andreyevna and Gayev weep as they bid farewell to the orchard and follow the others out. They believe the house is empty, thinking that Firs, who is ill, had been taken to the hospital that morning. But they are mistaken. Firs enters and lies motionless on the floor. The sounds of the plucked string and axes in the cherry orchard are heard in the distance.

Analysis

Ever a man of action and short on talk, Lopakhin once again has someone's future in his hands. He fails to propose to Varya, which has an unfortunate ripple effect. Without her family's support or a husband, Varya has no option but employment wherever she can find it. The marriage could have helped the rest of her family, too, by keeping the cherry orchard in the family in some form at least. Lopakhin's failure to propose means Varya has to be a servant for another family, and her mother, sister, and uncle have lost their last possible connection to the cherry orchard.

Firs symbolizes the old order, and his abandonment suggests that the aristocracy will, indeed, be left behind and forgotten. The annihilation of the cherry orchard also heralds a new world order in which the old ruling class is laid low. But Chekhov tries to strike a balance between two messages: sorrow for the passing of a generation but hope for a more equal future.

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