The Suitor and Papa By Anton Chekhov

Brief Introduction
The story”The Suitor and Papa” authored by Russian writer Anton Chekhov describes the futility of marriage, relationship, and family in European society. It delineates a contemporary society in which marriage is given secondary importance rather than job and enjoyment.

Anton Chekhov uses wit and irony to add interest and humour to this story, which tells the tale of a charming lad who wishes to put off any real responsibility in life for as long as possible. Chekhov, whose greatest masterpieces are The Cherry Orchard and Uncle Vanda, uses familiar themes and morals in The Suitor and Papa. This short story is not one of Anton Chekhov’s most famous works, but it still reflects his mental sophistication and exposes uncomfortable truths through expert storytelling.

Petrovich Milkin was a decent companion of Nastya. They hung out and the people thought they were lovers. Nastya’s father was not an exception for this misconception. People started to ask Milken about their marriage and the young fellow realized the danger he was in. Before he could flee from the country, Nastya’s father calked Milkin for a meeting to discuss the marriage.

Milkin attempted to avoid the looming fiasco of marriage by asserting he was a Kondrashkin’s a drunkard, he had fled with stolen money and that he was mad. But in spite of every allegation that he heaped upon him, Nastya’s father found the essential goodness in the young fellow. At last Milkin approached his friend and specialist to certify him mad.

On hearing Milkin looked for a medical certification to expel a marriage, the friendly doctor refused to confirm his friend insane because he believed that an insane person can’t escape from marriage!

Summary Points And Explanatory Notes

These critical notes and evaluation will help students understand the question/answer; reference to context; character analysis and also the content of the story. It will enable them to formulate their own comments and interpretations on the story and understand well its theme, plot setting, etc. These meaningful, value-based things enhance student creativity.


• Petrovich Milkin = A young Man

• Anastasia (Nastya) = Kondrashkin’s daughter

• Kondrashkin = Anastasia’s Father

• Dr. Fituyev = A Psychiatrist

• Petrovich Milkin hung out with Nastya, one of the Kondrashin’s daughters. Seeing this, most people thought that Milkin and Nastya were lovers and would marry.

• Milkin’s friends begun asking him about their marriage but Milkin was not interested in getting married.

• Well, he had been intimate with Nastya dined almost every evening, walked together there but Milkin had no designs of marrying Nastya.

•Seeing this, his friends and Nastya’s family would compel him to wed the young girl who loved him, Milkin chooses to leave the spot. In this way, he goes to Nastya’s home and meets her father Kondrashkin. He tells him that he will be leaving the place the following day.

• Kondrashkin is annoyed and shocked. He calls it dishonest. He requests Milkin to propose to his daughter Nastya.

• At this point, Milkin presents a number of reasons to evade the matter.

• Milkin admits that he would find no better girl than Nastya if he had wished to get married, he says that the two had different convictions and views.

• Kondrashkin counters this contention by saying that all people have varying perspectives and feelings and that he could never meet any lady who had similar perspectives and feelings. He further says that after a couple of days of their marriage, the harsh edges would be scoured off and there will be no distinctions throughout their life. Milkin says that he was not a proper match for Nastya because he was a poor man.

• The crafty Kondrashkin laughs at this. He reminds Milkin that he was a salaried man.

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• Milkin is unsuccessful again so he comes up with another lie that he is a drunkard!

• Kondrashkin says that he does not believe this. Milkin being a good young man, no, he could not believe he drinks.

• Now Milkin realizes that Kondrashkin was determined to get him married to Nastya. Instantly, he says that he took bribes!

• Kondrashin laughs at it, too. He reminds Milkin that everyone in the world took bribes. Milkin feels like being disarmed and defeated.

• Next, Milkin goes a little more dramatic and says that he could any time be arrested for embezzlement. He was on a trial.

• At this, Kondrashkin appears to have abandoned his pursuit. He asks Milkin how much amount he had embezzled a big amount of a 144, 000 ruble (it is ruble because the story is Russian).

• Kondrashkin goes silent for a while and predicts that Milkin will be sent to a Siberian prison if he is caught. He tells him that Nastya will follow him to Siberia as her love is pure. He, therefore, asks Milkin to propose to her.

• Milkin now comprehends that the two were playing a similar game-the man was forcing him to wed his little daughter at any expense! Milkin’s brain tinkles by and by and he says that he would be attempted not just for misappropriation, but also for fabrication.

• The intelligent Kondrashkin laughs at this because there will be the same punishment for the two crimes!

• Milkin now says that he is a runaway convict. Kondrashkin becomes silent for a moment and then asks Milkin why he had not been arrested yet.

Milkin says that he had been living in somebody’s else identity.

• Kondrashkin thinks about it. He is abruptly cheered. He asks Milkin to wed Nastya because in that way the police could never discover him until death.
Milkin makes another endeavor he says he is insane! Kondrashkin is no such senseless that he would trust it. He says that lunatics can’t contend so legitimately and reasonably as Milkin did. Milkin rises and goes out to get a doctor’s certificate to prove his madness.

• Milkin meets Dr. Fituyev, a Psychiatrist. The doctor doesn’t find anything wrong with Milkin.

• Milkin urges the doctor to certify him insane to avoid getting married.

• Dr. Fituyev says that he could not certify Milkin because anyone who doesn’t wish to get married is a wise man.

• The doctor asks him to come for a mental fitness certificate anytime he decides to get married.

• Milkin has no way out. He sits down, helpless.

Summary of The Suitor and Papa

The story is about a young man who enjoys the summer season in the countryside, spending his time visiting with a family and courting one of the family’s daughters. Over time, the young man’s charm has its effect, and the daughter is irrationally enthusiastic. Most of the locals, friends as well as the daughter’s father (and the daughter herself) believe that the young man Pyotr will speak about marriage. However, their belief turns out to be a distant dream, as the carefree playboy has no desire to give up his freedom over an innocent summer fling.

The story develops as Pyotr Petrovitch Milkin is attending a party with his male friends in the summer season. All his friends ask him about his marriage. His friends tell him about the dinners- and suppers with the Kondrashkin family and singing of songs with their girls. He gives flowers to Nastya and walks with her. All these activities point to the marriage of Milkin with a girl of the Kondrashkins. Milkin is shocked to learn this and rushes to Kondrashikan’s home to clear the doubts about his intentions. The father of Nastya wants to hook Milkin at any cost and confronts him about his tight-lipedness, asking him why he doesn’t ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Pyotr tries his best to run out of the situation, telling all manner of tales about himself that paint him as a drunkard, on trial for embezzlement, a runaway convict, a criminal and a lunatic. To his embarrassment Pyotr finds all his argument falling flat on Kondrashkin who avoids all the concerns as insignificant and wants the young man to marry Nastya.

In the end, Pyotr Petrovich Milkin feigns “insanity” and longs to fetch a certificate to prove he is insane, his would-be father-in-law tells him that he was not mad as a mad man did not argue so logically. Milkin rushes to his doctor friend to get a certificate to certify him as a mad man.

After listening to Milkin, his friend Dr.Fituyev tells Milkin he would give him another certificate. One that says he is completely sane. The doctor reasons that any chap who doesn’t wish to wed is totally sane, and, therefore, Pyotr is in perfect mental health. The story concludes leaving Pyotr utterly disappointed and flustered to negotiate the situation that has emerged.


This story highlights the marriage problem of girls in Russian society. The parents are in a state of desperation to find matches for their girls. Marriage is a source of income, becoming rich and getting easy money and name for most of the Russian people. This is a story about a young man who wishes to put off any real responsibility in life for as long as possible but the father of the girl on the other side urges the boy to get married at any cost. This story has another important message to share: that marriage is a futile exercise, relationship and family have no value in
European society but job and enjoyment get primary importance.

Character sketch of Pyotr Petrovich Milkin

Pyotr Petrovich Milkin is the main character of the. Pyotr seems to be a well-built young man. He is referred to as a wonderful lad by his would-be father-in-law Kondrashkin. He wears a hat but keeps it off the head most of the times. He mumbles and stutters while speaking Pyotr is a kind of young lad who believes in love and enjoyment as the only purpose of life. He throws parties and enjoys with his young unmarried friends. He is a non-serious person believing in trivial relations and amusement in life without taking any responsibility. Pyotr would love to take flowers to Nastya, the female character of the story, dance with her and go out with her on evenings and enjoy life to the maximum. Pyotr would compromise everywhere and tell irrational things full of deceit. He did not believe in marriage and could not tolerate the advances of Kondrashkin in this matter. In fact, he showed a false hurry in refusing the proposal and leaving the place immediately.

In spite of all his pretensions, Pyotr got deeply hooked in the net of Kondrashikan and finally wanted to feign madness to avoid the trap of marriage. His unreasonable responses, immature concerns present him as a confused and secretive kind of person whom nobody would trust. In the end, even Pyotr‘s friend was against his strange demand and he refused to certify him as a mad man.

Thus in the story, we see how, in spite of being the best story cooker, Pyotr Petrovich Milkin was unable to convince his friends, Kondrashkin and finally to his friend to help him to resolve the issue. This simply tells us that a non-serious attitude with irrational excuses can only confuse people but has no solution to the problem that Pyotr faced in the story.

Title of the Story

This is a farcical story in which the two characters — although there is a huge contrast in their roles — speak at the same degree of triviality and ridicule. The suitor who literary means a young man who courts a woman or seeks to marry her and Papa an idea that is known in the entire world as the biological father of a child.

The story finds aptly its plot woven around these two characters. The suitor who ironically turns out to be a playboy only has the purpose of life to enjoy and roam carefree. He finds a beautiful girl Nastya and acts as a perfect suitor but finds it insignificant and irrelevant to ask her hand in marriage. On the other hand, the story presents a father Kondrashkin who seems to be in an extra hurry to find a husband for his daughter. He leaves no stone unturned to hook the suitor Milkin in the plot and forces him to enter into the nuptial knot. The play runs like a “seek and find”game between the two characters thus giving a beautiful reason for the story being titled as the The Suitor and Papa.

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Q. Why did Pyotr’s friend ask for a stag party?

A. Pyotr’s friend asked for a stag party because there were rumours all around about Pyotr’s marriage.

Q. Why did Pyotr’s friend conclude that he was planning to marry Nastya?

A. Pyotr’s friend concluded that Pyotr was planning to marry Nastya because Pyotr would spend days with the kondrashkins. He would dine with them and go with Nastya and Konrashkins for walks. He would also take her bunches of flowers.

Q. Pyotr’s friend says, I’m glad for Kondrashkin’s sake rather than yours. Why?

A. Pyotr’s friend says that because he was happy for Kondrashkin’s sake because Kondrashkin had seven daughters and the marriage of Milkin with Nastya would mean that one of his liability would be settled by the poor father.

Q. I’ll drop in tomorrow and sort it out with that blocked of Kondrashkin’s….” What was Pyotr’s planning to sort out with Kondrashkin?

A. Pyotr planned to sort out with Kondrashkin that he had no plan to marry his daughter. He wished him to know that he was not interested in getting married to his daughter when he had been dining at his place and walking with Nastya and that all this would never mean that he would marry his daughter.

Q. In what state was Pyotr when he went to meet Konderashkin? How do you know?

A. Pyotr was in a state of displeasure and anger. His rumours of getting married to Kondrashkin’s daughter Nastya had frustrated him. We know all this only when in a disturbed and confused state he entered the study of Kondrashkin.

Q. What issue was Kondrashkin accusing Pyotr of evading?

A. Kondrashkin was accusing Pyotr of evading his daughter Nastya’s marriage issue.

Q. Pyotr cited many reasons for not proposing to Anastasia. List them.

A. Pyotr cited many reasons in order to avoid getting married to Anastsaia. The reasons are listed as under:

  • that he was a drunkard,
  • that he took bribes,
  • that he had embezzled a hundred and forty-four thousands,
  • that he was on the trait for embezzlement,
  • that he was a runaway convict,
  • that he was mad and
  • that marriage is forbidden to a mad person.

Q. Do you think the reasons Pyotr put forth were genuine? How do you know?

A. We believe the reasons were somehow genuine for Pyotr had no choice but to concoct reasons to avoid getting hitched with Nastya for the court councilor seemed to use his hospitality as a pressure tactic to force the young Milkin to agree to marry Anastasia.

Q. When he failed to convince Kondrashkin, what did Pyotr almost family decided to do?
A. After failing to persuade Kondrashkin, Pyotr decided to pretend insanity, a Hamlet device, so that he would not be allowed to marry legally. He almost decided to visit one of his friends, a doctor, and get a certificate from him to prove that he was crazy.

Q. Why does Fithyev refuse to certify Pyotr as mad, despite being his friend?

A. Fithyev refuses to certify him as mad for he believed that anyone who did not want to get married could not be insane. He thinks that avoiding marriage is being wise.

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