The Return of Chorb
by Vladimir Nabokov
The Return of Chorb Theme of The Supernatural
"The Return of Chorb" is full of eerie, supernatural occurrences. Because the story traces one man’s (Chorb’s) attempt to re-create an image of his dead wife, you can expect a fair amount of ghostly events going down. One perspective is that it’s all in Chorb’s head; he misses his wife, can’t deal with the grief, and so imagines a series of bizarre happenings to distract himself. It could also be that, in the fictional world of this tale, the supernatural is simply a part of reality. Weird stuff happens, ghosts make appearances, and we all just deal with it.
Questions About The Supernatural
- Are the supernatural occurrences in this story (the spider web, the moth, the swinging bulb) simply ordinary details which Chorb imagines to have greater significance, or does the story expect us to believe in all this eerie stuff?
- When the prostitute jumps off the bed, she’s described as "the white specter of a woman." Is this objective, or given from Chorb’s point-of-view? What about the next line about Chorb sitting "clasping his hair shins […] with a meaningless smile" – is that from the prostitute’s point-of-view?
- How does the lackey’s presence affect the atmosphere of "Chorb"? Is he comic relief? Does he contribute to the sinister mood?
Chew on This
The disruption of time (both narrative time and Chorb’s "backwards" journey from the south of France) in "The Return of Chorb" is integral to understanding Chorb’s motivations.