Introduction

The narrative “The Chameleon” explores a variety of problems concerning an individual’s freedoms as well as hypocritical behavior. This chapter delves into the topics of authority, identity, racism, status, and corruption.Nobody seems to know who owns the dog, and her ownership shifts throughout the story, with everyone guessing who she belongs to. When Otchumyelov realizes that the dog belongs to the general’s brother, the situation is settled to his satisfaction. An intriguing detail regarding the dog’s owner’s finding is that Otchumyelov’s judgment on what should be done with the dog is based on the owner’s social status. 

In this story, the idea of authority is obvious. Otchumyelov is in perfect command of the situation. What happens, though, is a farce. This might be the point Chekhov is trying to make. Chekhov’s characterization of Otchumyelov may be implying that individuals in positions of authority need to reconsider how they see the world. As previously stated, Otchumyelov’s criterion for judging is based on social class instead of any genuine kind of justice.

Injustice And Unwavering Regard For The General

The central protagonist in the storyline is Otchumyelov, an official police superintendent. He hears a sudden ruckus as he passes across the market square with a package under his arm. Hryukin, the goldsmith, was bitten on the finger by a white Borzoi. At first, Otchumyelov appeared to be empathetic to the poor dog bite victim. And he feels that this crime is awful and that a report should be issued right away.

When he realizes whose dog it is, though, his entire outlook on the situation flips. General Zhigalov is the owner of the dog. As soon as he discovers this, he begins to doubt Hryukin’s version of what happened. Otchumyelov begins to make excuses, claiming that the dog could never reach his finger to bite him and refers to the victim as a huge hulking man.

At first, Otchumyelov appears to be fully committed to his duties, which include investigating the incident. However, because the dog in question belonged to a General, who was a prominent figure in the town, he displays his undying loyalty to his social superiors by accusing the complainant of harming himself in order to obtain compensation. 

The Chameleon

However, Otchumyelov, being the chameleon that he is, had not yet changed enough colors. For self- satisfaction, he quickly establishes that the dog does not belong to the General. He convinces the audience that such a nobleman would never breed such an animal. However, many of those in the crowd were certain that the dog was definitely the General’s.

So, Otchumyelov successfully relieves himself of responsibility for the incidence. He then asks his subordinate to take the dog to the General’s house and tells him to remind the General to not allow it out on the street again in case it has to be tortured or harmed. Otchumyelov takes a chance as he is quite uncertain about whose dog it is. 

If it turns out to belong to the General, then he might claim that he was seeking to safeguard the animal for its own wellbeing rather than for the sake of public safety. To put it another way, Otchumyelov is more focused on not offending the General than he is on ensuring that no one else is injured by the dog. According to what is apparent, the superintendent considers maintaining rank differences and privileges more important than obeying the law.

As previously stated, this chameleon is set to change colors once again. The General’s chef strongly insists that the dog is not his honor’s. That is enough to convince Otchumyelov that the dog is a danger and should be strangled. The chef then explains that the dog belongs to the General’s brother, Vladimir Ivanitch.

Otchumyelov tells the cook to return the dog to the General, claiming that it is simply a small puppy who snapped at some chap’s finger. Hryukin, the unfortunate victim, stands there in the frigid cold, his finger still bleeding, surrounded by mocking laughter from the audience.

Conclusion

The story’s conclusion is particularly intriguing. Despite the settlement, Hryukin remains dissatisfied. He feels that he has not been treated fairly, but judging him is tough. It’s probable that Hryukin struck the dog, which then bit Hryukin. There are no eyewitnesses to what happened, and those who opine on it are also difficult to establish.