Analysis: What's Up With the Title?
You know what's funny about this short story? Nothing very much at all, actually. Except—and go with us here for second—maybe the title itself has just the teeniest tiniest sliver of humor embedded somewhere deep inside it. Sure, on the face of it, it's a pretty straightforward way to name the story. The plot hinges on a bet, and so it makes perfect sense to put that foot forward and just call the thing "The Bet."
But still. Isn't there something just a little bit deadpan in using that word to describe what happens? A bet's usually something pretty insignificant and immediate, as in, I bet you five bucks you can't drink this gallon of milk in under a minute. But here, we are talking about two million rubles. We are talking about fifteen years of a man's life, for Pete's sake. Using "The Bet" as a title really underplays the stakes, don't you think? (See what we did there? "Bet" and "stakes"? Get it? Oh, Shmoop's on a roll.)