THE GUN

by CEVDP

 

Anton Chekhov once stated that when a gun appears in a story it must be used. He was making a point on multiple elements of storytelling, more specifically for short stories. In these kinds of stories every element counts. That is what the gun metaphor stands for. Every element described has to be of use. Describing a key object, such as a gun, without making any use of it further along the tale is a waste of words and could potentially be used against the author in terms of realism. Moreover, this goes with the idea that a short story is relatively predictable from only it’s beginning. The first pages of writing display and describe the essential pieces of the puzzle. As the story continues the pieces are assembled progressively leading to the final picture built from these very pieces.

 

However if Chekhov’s metaphor is extrapolated to our very own human stories it holds some interesting truth. No one holds all the pieces of their puzzle, but everyone comes across pieces of other puzzles. If there is a gun and a situation where it fits, it will be used. If we hold a piece of another puzzle we will use it. Humans will use what they have. In what way, that remains undetermined until the very moment. It is the tragic curse of the gun. The least subtle form of blackmail might very well be the menace of a bullet. If a gun lies at the scene, one must take it or someone else will. Yet, what to do with it is up to one’s own conscience. Will yours be a short story?