Matryona’s House Analysis


Solzhenitsen uses the symbolism and the interconnection of Matryona and her house to convey the unnatural ideas of communistic ideology. This idea spawns from Solzhenitsens own experience with a communistic way of life. In a communist government, there is no one person; there is only a group of people. This type of government does all in its power to destroy independence in a person. A person works for the good of the people, and not in the best interest of themselves. Solzhenisten quite fervently puts this idea to sleep.

Greed, corruption, and selfishness are normally associated with capitalism. This short story displays the exception for a communistic society, in that the selfishness and greed of the other characters are able to destroy Matryona. “Apparently, in order to validate their tenure of a plot of land in Cherusti they had to build on it, and Matryona’s outhouse was ideal for the purpose: there was no hope of getting the timber anywhere else.” (Howe, 677) This selfishness in of itself is not horrible, but taking advantage of family members is a worse offense. Ilya seemed to care less for Matryona by being so keen on getting the timber, reguardless of how it affected her. “The person who was keenest on getting the plot of land in Cherusti was neither Kira nor her husband but old Ilya on their behalf.” (Howe, 677) This translates to a selfishness of the characters: if one is to own the land, one has to build on the land. In order to build, one needs timber.

The short story does not dictate whether other avenues of receiving timber were tried. It instead immediately turns its attention to Matryona’s house. This idea could be in reaction to whom the house was originally for: Ilya.

“Long ago, as a young boy, he [Ilya] had helped his own father build this cottage, and the extra room that they were now demolishing had been designed as the place where he , the eldest son, should bring home his bride. Now that he hosue belonged to someone else, he relished the idea of pulling it apart and carting it away.” (Howe, 677)

The house seemed to be the very essence of who Matryona was. It was the vitality of her, and protected her for 40 years. Once the greed for limber took over her extended family members, Solzhenitsyn makes quite a statement. “Even I, a mere lodger, objected to them tearing down the planks and wrenching out the logs from her cottage. For Matryona, it meant the end of her life.” (Howe, 677) Solzhenitsen truly wanted his readers to understand the connection between her house and Matryona. It almost seems as if her relatives realized this as well because of their constant bombardment of pleas for the timber. “But her insistent relatives knew that they would succeed in breaking up her house while she was still alive.” (Howe, 677)

Her extended family members tore Matryona’s home apart. After the timber was taken from the outhouse, a truck was needed to take the timber to Cherusti. Now the wood needed two trailers in order to transfer the wood.  The owner of the truck was getting paid the same amount, whether the truck took two trips or one. Now if greed was not a factor in this communistic society the truck driver would not have thought of himself before the people that were compensating him. Because the truck was pulling two trailers, it was difficult for them to cross the train tracks. One of the trailers detached as the truck crossed the railroad. This created a deadly situation for several people, one of whom was Matryona. In the end the greed of the family members for the timber and the greed of the trucker destroyed Matryona. The previous quote by the narrator truly comes true, the tearing of her house was Matryona’s downfall.

Other aspects of this story are evident in the connection between Matryona and her house. The resilience of the two is quite evident. The life of Matryona goes against communistic ideologies. Though her life is consistent with a rough terrible life that one would associate communism to, she does not wallow in self pity as others would. Both her marriages did not work due the husbands being called to wars, and all six of her children passed away.  She takes what little she has received to become successful. Even in her old age she neglects to be paid or compensated for her work. This is the resilience seen through her actions. Now the house is resilient through the fact that it has protected Matryona from the elements of nature.

There has been discussion on elements of this story in which display  the interconnection between Matryona and her house. There has also been discussion of the anti communistic ideologies symbolized in these two characters in the play. In the end Matryona willingly gave of herself, part of her house, to the greed of others to be destroyed. Her life in essence was complete and successful.

Work Cited

Howe, Irving, ed. Classics of Modern Fiction. 4th ed. Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,, 1986. 655-694.

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