Interactive English: Reception

Reading and Listening

Fat and Thin

on May 9, 2012

In the next class we will listen to and read a short story called “Fat and Thin” by one of the world’s greatest short story writers, Anton Chekhov. In the story, which is set in Russia in 1883, two friends from childhood unexpectedly meet at a train station after many years of not seeing each other. Choose ONE question from below and answer it in the comments.

1. How will the friends react at first?

2. What will they talk about?

3. How do you think they have changed since childhood?

4. What will happen at the end?

5. This is a Russian story from over 130 years ago. What kind of cultural references or old-fashioned terms might we hear?

Also, when you read pages 31-55 of The Curious Incident, please answer all these questions in your journal and don’t forget to keep a list of characters!

1. What does Christopher want to be when he grows up?

2. Why was he surprised his mother died of a heart attack?

3. What is the first clue to the dog’s murder that he finds?

4. Does Christopher believe in heaven?

5. Who is the prime suspect in the murder? Why?

Also don’t forget to do your Book Review! 🙂


15 responses to “Fat and Thin

  1. Akira Nemoto says:

    Hi,this is Akira.
    Here is my answer to Q5.
    Judging from a lot of Russian story I’ve read, there will maybe a lot of French vocaburaries or sentences, because ,in the 19thcentury,Russian are envious of French in general.The upper or middle class of Russian studied French, and they speak French even between russian.(I guess they were snob)
    I heard many parts of “War and Peace”are written in French.
    However I’m not sure whether we can distinguish French words from Russian,for the book is translated into English.

  2. Kei Inamura says:


    Here’s my answer to the question 2.
    I think they will at first talk about their present situations,like where they live and what they do,because they’ve not seen each other and don’t know how they are doing.
    Then they will talk their memories of childhood.They remember what they did and where they went.
    After that they’ll tell what happened in their lives after the childhood,while they were not seeing each other.

  3. Mayu says:

    Hi,Im Mayu:D
    I’ll answer the question4.

    I think what happen at the end is that they feel a little bit unpleasant each other because they both have greatly changed.
    The other day I met a friend that I haven’t seen for three years.Since I was a bad student three years ago(some may say still now haha) and Ive changed so much,my friend was surprised and we did not warm up.
    I think the same thing will happen to them.

    I did not attend the last class because I went to the hospital,and I have to be imprisoned in hospital for a week!
    So I’m not coming to the next class too but please do not forget me.

  4. Ayumi Sugaya says:

    Hi,I’m Ayumi.
    Here is my answer to the question 2 “What will they talk about?”
    I think they’ll first talk about the reason why they came to the station or where they would plan to go.
    Then they’ll move on to the topic about their present family, place where they live, and work.
    After that,maybe they’ll start talking about what happened to them while they haven’t meet each other.
    If their talk go on smoothly,they’ll have a talk about old memories,but it depends on whether they are in a hurry or not.

  5. Shogo Inoue says:

    Hi, this is Shogo

    3. How do you think they have changed since childhood?

    From the title “fat and thin” we could imagine that one of them is fat and other is thin. We might be able to say that fat men is viewed as the rich guy and thin man is viewed as the poor guy.

    This is not always so, but in some society being fat is depicted as wealth and power. This is because they have enough money to buy food to become fat.

    If they have lived in a different environment their way of communicating with people and clothing would have changed.

  6. Wataru Okubo says:


    Question 4: What will happen at the end?

    I recently read some of Anton Chekhov’s short stories and felt that they are densely based on and reflecting the Russian society at that time, somewhat realistic and have a sense of humor and cynicism. Considering this, I guess the 2 characters, probably one is fat and the other is thin, would be glad to meet each other again at first talking about old memories and their current lives. However, just like other short stories, I think it would have a twist at the end and it wouldn’t be something like “they lived happily ever after.”

  7. Satomi Togari says:

    Hi, This is Satomi ! 🙂

    Here is my answer to question 1.

    1. How will the friends react at first?

    First of all, I think the chances of bumping into an old friend on the train are very slim considering the conditions such as the time, place and person to meet.
    I’ve experienced something like this on the JR line and I didn’t recognize my friend from elementary school, but she knew who I was straight away!
    She had changed alot too, which made it more harder for me to tell who she was.(neither of us got fatter/thinner by the way :P)
    While I was very surprised to see my friend in that one particular carriage, I also felt a sense of nostalgia from seeing an old friend I hadn’t met for ages.
    Therefore, I assume if the two people in the story see each other afer the long years, I think they would be more than just surprised.

  8. Takumi Nakanishi says:

    Here is my answer to Q4.
    I don’t know why, but they’ll end up getting married with each other.
    The picture shows that either of the thin or the fat is male but doesn’t necessarily show the other is also male. So, the other can be female. I bet on this possibility.

    By the way, I found this literary expression on the Internet.
    “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And Today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”
    The first time I read this, I was profoundly impressed. I also want to write something witty like this.

  9. saya says:

    Hi, I am Saya! I would like to answer question 4.
    At a guess, this story won’t end in a happy story as Wataru and Mayu have already suggested.
    There is no evidence of my guess. It is just an intuition.

    The fat man may find that his ex girlfriend is now a girlfriend of the thin man, who used to be fatter but became very thin by doing some excercise.
    Or, one of them may confess a secret that he has kept in mind and that may ruin their friendship.
    One of them may be shocked by the fact that the other became an elite (like a president of a company or something like that) and looks down on him.

    I am looking forward to the reception class tomorrow and checking whether any of my guess is correct!

  10. Jiin Choi says:

    This is Jiin. I’m gonna answer question 3.

    Guessing from the title “Fat and Thin” and the term when this was written, one may become fat and the other may become thin. In my opinion, this seems to symbolize the gap between the rich and the poor. As they look like, one may be living a well-off life and the other may not be.. At first, those two will be glad to meet each other but the more they talk about their recent days, the more they become unpleasant to continue the conversation.

    The title makes me more curious about the story. See you tomorrow.:))

  11. Mina says:

    Hi, this is Mina.
    I will answer the first question.
    I think the two friends will be very surprised by the changes of their looking, becuse they haven’t seen each other since childfood.
    I’m not surprised if they don’t realize each other.

    I look forward to reading the book.

  12. Masato Kurosawa says:

    Hello, this is Masato.
    I’ll answer the 1st question.
    From the title “Fat and Thin”, I think, one has gotten weight a lot and another has lost weight a lot when they meet at the train station. Therefore, they would not recognize each other, but if so, the story will never start. I’m looking forward to know how it will unfold tomorrow.

  13. Jay says:

    I think they’ll talk about their past and what they are currently doing. By doing so they’ll gradually realize how much society has changed them as they grew older. Assuming from the title and judging from the fact that fat people are often portrayed as wealthy (or just lazy, it depends) and thin people as poor, I think it would be quite hard for them to reestablish their friendship as adults.

  14. Shino Yanagimura says:

    To question number 3, maybe they were the opposite look many years ago. The fat person bacame thin, and the thin person became fat. Maybe the reason is because they changed places in society. The guy who is thin now was fat and wealthy, but lost his job and lost wieight, and the guy who is fat now was poor, but became very rich.

  15. Kano Nagashima says:

    I think they will first state at each other, trying to figure out what to say , but mostly because they ate both very surprised. But then they will say something like “oh my go !!!!!!”next. They might run to each other and hug .

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