The Return of Chorb
by Vladimir Nabokov
Tools of Characterization
The first paragraph of "The Return of Chorb" makes it clear that the Kellers are not likeable people. Keller himself is "simian" and, Nabokov tells us, he looks like Oom Paul Kruger, which as you can see here doesn’t exactly make you want to run over and give him a hug. His wife’s "chubby face" is "reddened with agitation." They sound, quite frankly, annoying -- which they soon prove to be, at least for Chorb.
Sex and Love
The description of Chorb and his wife’s wedding night tells us a lot about Chorb. And his wife. (Funny how that works.) The fact that they didn’t make love may be off-putting, but the description of the evening ("he had kissed her once—on the hollow of the throat") will make you think twice. There’s a purity and chasteness to Chorb’s love for his wife – a chasteness similarly reflected in her death. His love for her, like his grief, is somehow unearthly.