“Four Days” by Vsevolod Garshin was a story that became more popular with
time but it universally spoke to people of all times and situations. Garshin was a solider
himself, and proudly served in the Russo-Turkish war. This whole story itself was
actually based on Garshin’s and fellow brother in arms who went through a very similar
situation and survived to tell the tale to Garshin. Though Garshin’s story was only a few
pages long and was not critically successful, it’s boundlessness was universal to all
situations and people. The story is minimized to the narrator by using the first person
perspective, reducing the vastness of the tragedy yet simplifying the moment. In this
essay I will analyze a passage from the story in detail and go over the themes of equality,
death, anti-war statements, and religion.
One of the most obvious and essential themes of the short story is the anti-war
message. Shown at the end of the passage, Ivanov gets a horrifying taste of what war is
really like. “Once when I opened my eyes to look at him, I was appalled. His face was gone. It had slid off the bones. His frightful bony smile, his eternal smile, struck me as more-revolting, more awful than ever, though I’ve often held skulls in my hands and even prepared whole heads in anatomy class. This skeleton in uniform with it’s shiny buttons made me shudder. “This is war,” I thought, “this is how it looks.”
The definition of war is an “armed conflict between nations, sates, or factions,” (3) not man against man. So to have one man killing another man over something they honestly have nothing do with, begins to seem a little silly. Earlier in the story, the narrator explains that he was a volunteer solider for a war that was in a way voluntary as well. He then also comes to realize that his neighbor in death is not the direct enemy (a Turk) but in fact an Egyptian. The idea that two men who have families at home and who are...