Term Paper: Literary Analysis on the Short Story the Shot by Alexander Pushkin

Pages: 4 (1432 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Military  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Alexander Pushkin is a story that takes place in Russia, with the main setting being the army. There are many elements that influence the meaning and analysis of the events in the story. The author's use of characterization provides a basis for the revenge that serves as the main theme of the story. Furthermore, the possible dual meaning of the title serves as a sound indication for the nuances and mysteries surrounding the central character, Sylvio.

The title "The Shot" can refer to either a person or a concrete noun. Throughout the story, the indication is that Sylvio is a good shot; his prowess with his gun is nothing short of legendary, and his passion for the art of shooting is evidenced by the holes in his cottage wall. Later in the story, evidence of Sylvio's shooting also feature by means of holes in a picture. These holes relate directly to the subtle revenge that he effects by means of his shooting. The shot can also refer to the shooting itself -- a gunshot -- which provides the main theme of Sylvio's revenge. This dual concept of the shot is then also the basis upon which Sylvio's acquaintances admire him -- he is their superior on the basis of something that they can understand.

In terms of characterization, the story opens with a short description of the "life of an officer in the army." The author states that it is "well-known." In contrast, Sylvio is a perfect mystery, which is the greater part of the admiration that the military personnel have for him. The narrator, himself an army officer, relates all the contrasts between themselves and the civilian Sylvio. These contrasts serve to juxtapose the character with all that is known; he is mysterious and therefore admirable.

The most obvious point of contrast is Sylvio's status as civilian. He is a retired army officer, although it is not know why he left the service. All his frequent guests know is that he does not like to speak about the topic of dueling, which serves as an early indicator for the events that are revealed later in the story.

In addition to age, Sylvio has other "advantages" over his young acquaintances: he has experience, taciturnity, and a stern disposition. These elements of his character serve to make him both alien and exotic to those who share his table. These traits place him on a higher level than the young officers.

Adding to the mystery is the apparent contrasts in his way of life; he lives poorly and serves relatively modest meals, but never refuses a meal to his guests. Champagne, known as an expensive drink, is apparently in no short supply at these meals. This is therefore an element that correlates with the apparent contrasts in the character, and between Sylvio and his fellow characters. The same can be said of the only evident luxury in his humble cottage -- his collection of pistols. If one goes further in this analysis, one might even say that the champagne and pistol collection symbolically represent Sylvio's mysterious, exotic, and somewhat dangerous character, while the relatively mundane food represents the rest of the characters.

From the soldiers' point-of-view, the mystery surrounding Sylvio is accompanied by their respect for and fear of him. Nobody dared to ask about his circumstances or income, although it was a subject of much wonder and speculation.

The first turning point in the story occurs one evening at Sylvio's home, where a new officer insults Sylvio by first disagreeing with the score that Sylvio wrote on the board, and second by hurling a candlestick at him. The contrast between the soldiers' perception of Sylvio, and the latter's actual nature as a human being, as a soldier, and as a shot. The perception of the soldiers is that the officer's days are all but numbered, as Sylvio would surely exact revenge as soon as possible. When he does not, he is perceived as cowardly and loses most of the esteem he had in the eyes of the soldiers, and especially in the eyes of the narrator. Interestingly, Sylvio demonstrates that he cares little about the opinion of others, but the narrator is singled out, as Sylvio is adamant to provide an explanation of his actions… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Literary Analysis on the Short Story the Shot by Alexander Pushkin.  (2010, October 1).  Retrieved July 21, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/literary-analysis-short-story-shot/638280

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"Literary Analysis on the Short Story the Shot by Alexander Pushkin."  Essaytown.com.  October 1, 2010.  Accessed July 21, 2019.