“If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” –Anton Chekhov
Chekhov’s Gun refers to the literary technique of introducing a story element that only later proves significant. This goes beyond simple foreshadowing. To Chekhov, a proper story should contain no irrelevant information.
In May 2006, Bob Rennie graces the WestEnder with a look of uncharacteristic consternation. His serious face is at odds with the news item. The condo he’s promoting, Jameson House, is supposedly a glory in the making, and the cover story is an all-out ego stroker. (The reporter describes the condos as so luxurious that “residents of such digs should not indulge in such base acts as eating or using the washroom.”) But why so serious?
Fast-forward two-and-a-half years. The world-class Jameson House is caught in a world-class credit crunch. Demand for seven-figure condos is dried up. Bank financing is pulled due to market conditions. Construction stops at the project site. A developer’s dream is dead unless new money comes through to save it.
All that remains is the look on a face, and the power of hindsight for us to interpret it.