The beginning of the play establishes the deep emotional attachment Lubov and others have to the cherry orchard. At this point, it is unthinkable that the estate could be lost.
Lopakhin, the pragmatist, shares his plan for the orchard: clear it and cut it up into lots. Lubov and Gaev would never consider such a thing.
In the very orchard that's the source of conflict, Lubov and Gaev simply enjoy its beauty. Lopakhin reminds them once more that the auction date is approaching and they must make a decision. Trofimov, while not a fan of Lopakhin's schemes, favors getting rid of the orchard. For him it's a symbol of injustice.
While trying to entertain, Lubov waits in agony for the men to return from the auction. Drumroll: Lopakhin bought it! He gives a big, dramatic speech in which the purchase of the orchard emerges almost as an act of revenge for his ancestor's servitude.
There's just a brief moment at the end of Act 3 – after Lopakhin has gloated and gone – when Lubov sits crying. Anya approaches her gently, reminding her that she still has her life to live. Will Lubov go somewhere new? Will she return to Paris?
Luggage is piled up as the family waits for the train – all of them dispersing to various locations. Lopakhin excitedly starts the clearing of the orchard.
It's the end of an era, and the era's last representative, Fiers, is left alone and dying.