Fathers and Sons
Traditions and Customs Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
"Perhaps their advantage lies in their having fewer traces of the serf-owning mentality than we have?" (11.2)
This is Nikolai's rationalization of why, for all their foolishness, the Russian youth still seem to have some edge on their elders. How might Pavel and Nikolai be constrained by the "serf-owning mentality"? Is it possible for them to overcome this mentality? Wouldn't all of their reading seem to help them overcome it?
Rainbow-coloured dreams occasionally danced before even her eyes, but she breathed more freely when they faded away, and did not regret them. Her imagination certainly ranged beyond the bounds of what is considered permissible by conventional morality; but even then her blood flowed as quietly as ever in her fascinatingly graceful, tranquil body. Sometimes, emerging all warm and languorous from a fragrant bath, she would fall to musing on the futility of life, its sorrow and toil and cruelty... Her soul would be filled with sudden daring and begin to seethe with noble aspirations; but then a draught would blow from a half-open window and Anna Sergeyevna would shrink back into herself, feel plaintive and almost angry, and at that instant the one thing she cared for beyond all others was to get away from that abominable draught. (16.83)
How does the narrator seem to portray Anna Sergeyevna's actions as being constrained by her place in society? Is she hemmed in by a sense of custom or just of laziness? What might the two have in common? Does the narrator seem to be parodying her here or trying to portray her honestly?
"I simply can't manage it!" Nikolai Petrovich had exclaimed despairingly more than once. "I can't fight them myself and my principles forbid me to send for the police; yet without the fear of punishment you can do nothing with them." (22.16)
Do you agree with Nikolai Petrovich here? Does the "fear of punishment" seem to you a natural custom? How has the sudden emancipation of the serfs caused serious problems? How might the reform have been carried out more smoothly, with more respect for tradition?