Spring in Fialta
by Vladimir Nabokov
Spring in Fialta Theme of Fate and Free Will
"Spring in Fialta" focuses on a series of bizarre, random encounters between two individuals – so many, in fact, that it seems impossible to be the result of chance alone. The narrator is forced to wonder just what fate has in mind in bringing this pair together, over and over, by the oddest means and in the most unexpected places. The idea of fate thus pervades the story, rendering all of "Spring in Fialta" mystically deterministic (inevitable as a result of past events). Adding to this, the story’s ending is given away at the start. Because we know where we’re heading in the narrative, "Spring in Fialta" not only explores fatalism, but is fatalistic itself.
Questions About Fate and Free Will
- Think about the way that time is manipulated in "Spring in Fialta." How does this contribute to the story’s fatalistic tone?
- Is the fatalism we see in "Spring in Fialta" only the result of its being told in retrospect? For example, check out the scene by the yellow car where Victor has a premonition. Can we trust that this really was a premonition, seeing as he’s telling us the tale from his memory? Was Nina really "fated" to keep her meeting with the "eternal sleeping car," or does it only seem that way to Victor now?
- The word "doomed" comes to mind when we think about Victor’s relationship with Nina. But is this more to do with her impending death, or her ephemeral, train-bound nature? Is the thought of a real relationship impossible because Nina’s going to die, or because Nina is incapable of really loving Victor?
- What is the difference between "chance" and "fate" in "Spring in Fialta?" Which is responsible for Victor’s many meetings with Nina?
Chew on This
Nina and Victor are both victims of circumstance in "Spring in Fialta." Victor can not be blamed for his infidelities any more than Nina can be blamed for her death.
Nina’s fickle nature is to blame for all the tragedies of "Spring in Fialta," from Victor’s heartbreak to her own death.