What Is "The Lottery Ticket" by Anton Chekhov About?

Anton Chekhov's short story "The Lottery Ticket" is about the eternal human quest to have something different, instead of being satisfied with the life that one has. It is not just the love of money that causes problems in this story; rather, it is the notion that when change is possible, it often makes the life that one has incapable of providing satisfaction anymore.

In the story, Ivan and his wife, Masha, are happy with each other. They are a middle-class family and are satisfied with their lot in life. However, one day Masha comes home with a lottery ticket, and she asks Ivan to take a look at the recent list of drawings. He has the newspaper in front of him, and both the series and ticket number have to match for the ticket to be a winner. At first, he sees that the series number is a match.

Before he looks at the ticket number, though, he talks with his wife about the possibilities that would become realities with a winning ticket. The two of them dream about what they would do with all of that money. This is exciting to them until then they think about their relatives and how they would react to the news. They imagine that their family would never talk to them without asking for a handout and how even his friends might turn on him. Ivan and his wife imagine how it might change their own relationship for the worse. However, when they stop fantasizing, they turn and gaze at each other — and do not like what they see. When the second number does not match, their whole life has changed. Both saw a future without the other, and now they are suffocated by a reality that, just a few minutes before, had been happy.