| Quote #4
She looked as if she were ashamed to have come in, yet at the same time somehow felt that she had a right to come. (5.63)
This is the narrator's description of Fenichka when she comes out to serve everyone tea. This description captures the uneven nature of her relationship with Nikolai. Why should she be ashamed to come out and serve them tea? Whose standards seem to be controlling her emotions – her own or those of the men around her?
| Quote #5
Pavel Petrovich himself felt that his bon mot had fallen flat and began to talk about farming and the new bailiff who had come to him the day before with a complaint about Foma, a farm-hand who kept slinking off and was quite unmanageable. "A regular Aesop, that Foma," the steward had added. "Shown himself all round to be a worthless fellow; but he'll live and learn, and shake off his stupid ways." (5.74)
By now, it's clear that the novel is tinged with such little anecdotes about lazy peasants. Why do you think it is that these little anecdotes are so important to the historical setting of the novel? How important is this context to understanding the family struggles that lie at the heart of the novel?
| Quote #6
The estate had only recently been put on to the new system, whose mechanism still creaked like an ungreased wheel, and cracked in places like home-made furniture of unseasoned wood. (8.1)
What seems to be causing all the trouble with switching over to the new estate system – the one where the peasants are free and they just pay taxes? What do you make of the comparison to "unseasoned wood"? What might be the "unseasoned wood" in the new system?