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Quotes

Quote #1

Pavel Petrovich had not undressed but merely changed his patent-leather shoes for a pair of heel-less red Chinese slippers. In his hand he held the last number of Galignani but he was not reading; he gazed fixedly into the grate where a bluish flame flickered, dying down, then flaring up again... Heaven only knows where his thoughts meandered but they were not wandering entirely in the past; there was a grim, tense expression on his face and this is not so when a man is absorbed solely by his memories. (4.36)

Is the passage more or less affecting because the narrator does not actually tell us what is bothering Pavel? How would it strike you differently if he simply explained what was going on in Pavel's mind? If you had to guess at this point, what is Pavel so upset about?

Quote #2

Her whole behaviour was a maze of inconsistencies; the only letters which might justly have excited her husband's suspicions she wrote to a man she hardly knew, and her love had an element of sadness; she no longer laughed and joked with her heart's choice but would listen to him and gaze at him in bewilderment. (7.2)

This description of Pavel's love, Princess R., captures her neuroses, and hints at the way she will eventually descend into madness. What is it about her suffering that causes Pavel to suffer as much as he does? What is it about her distance from him (caused, in part, by mental imbalance) that compels him to follow her?

Quote #3

She had scratched lines in the shape of a cross over the sphinx and sent him a message that the solution of the enigma was the cross. (7.6)

What do you think the Princess R.'s cross means? Does she mean that the reason she acts so strange is because she is suffering? Is this too easy a dismissal of her strangeness? How was she suffering? Why? Is she, here, passing on the cross to Pavel or simply trying to answer his question?

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