Literature Study GuidesUncle VanyaAct 4 Telegin And Marina Pass The Time Summary

Uncle Vanya | Study Guide

Anton Chekhov

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Uncle Vanya | Act 4, Telegin and Marina Pass the Time | Summary



Telegin and Marina wind a ball of yarn while waiting for Yelena and Serebryakov to leave. They have decided to move to Kharkov and will leave that very day and will send for their possessions later. Both Telegin and Marina are pleased they are leaving. Telegin notes, "They just weren't made to live here." Marina looks forward to the household's routines being reestablished: "We can live like we ought to again."

Telegin expresses anger over a shopkeeper asking him if he was "still leeching off of those people," but Marina tells him not to mind the comment. She believes all people are "beggars as far as God is concerned." Plus, she notes, Telegin, Sonya, and Vanya are productive: they "all have things to do, nobody just sits around." Marina asks where Sonya is and learns that she and other people are looking for Vanya because they are "afraid he's going to try and kill himself."


Marina's comments reveal her continued belief in Christianity and the value of work. She associates the household's former routines with Christianity, suggesting she considers any deviation from a set schedule as subversive and abnormal. She most likely subscribes to the proverb, "Idle hands are the devil's workshop" (Proverbs 16:27). Serebryakov, an intellectual, did not follow the household's routines, nor did he work. Marina considered his idleness and irregular schedule unchristian. She alone believes the other members of the household are redeemed in the eyes of God because they stay busy and are not idle.

Yelena and Serebryakov's decision to leave immediately, without even taking their possessions, reveals the effect of Vanya's abortive shooting. They want to immediately put distance between themselves and Vanya, suggesting they fear for their safety and most likely consider Vanya deranged and unpredictable. It is equally possible they have left because Serebryakov is motivated to write about the incident, now feeling capable of writing a treatise on life.

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