What Is “A Problem” by Anton Chekhov About?

Anton Chekhov’s “A Problem” is a short story about a man named Sasha who cashes in a forged promissory note, which becomes a family secret. His family faces a moral dilemma about how to handle the matter; one uncle believes Sasha should go to jail, while the other believes the family should keep his act a secret and not allow him to face punishment.

Throughout this debate, Sasha does not believe he should be treated as a criminal because he has no money, was promised money from his friend to begin with, and knew many other people his age who forged these notes. His uncles ultimately decide to preserve the family’s honor and keep Sasha’s act a secret. Then, Sasha realizes he is a criminal; he asks his uncle to borrow money, knowing full well that he will never pay it back.