Spring in Fialta
by Vladimir Nabokov
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Over the course of the story, the weather in "Spring in Fialta," shifts from a "cloudy and dull" start to a "saturated with sunshine" finish. It’s also interesting to look at the hints we get; this sunshine doesn’t just come out of the clear blue sky (Ha!). It’s actually apparent from the get-go. To start, Victor notices a bunch of sponges "dying a thirsty death," a.k.a. drying up. Not so common in humid, rainy weather. Next he sees a man with dry, bloodshot eyes and dry lips – again, an indication of the weather shifting. Later, Segur starts complaining of the weather, but Victor "[does] not understand what he [is] talking about," and he mentions without comprehension that "a bit of tin-foil someone had dropped [is] shining in the […] street." We, if we’ve been paying attention, knew this was coming – much like the effect of the circus posters.
In many ways, the weather in "Spring in Fialta" has to do more with the way the story is being told and the nature of memory than it does with the actual content of the narrative (that is, the relationship between Victor and Nina). The idea of seeing everything, of having all the pieces, but of not realizing what they mean is a familiar one. Often, it’s not until after the fact that you can piece together the significance of a past series of events. (Think about Bruce Willis’s character in The Sixth Sense.) And that’s the whole nature of "Spring in Fialta" – a look back at past occurrences with the added benefit of retrospect. This functions doubly, since Victor-in-Fialta looks back at his past meetings with Nina, while Victor-the-narrator looks back at Victor-in-Fialta. Victor-the-narrator knows what Victor-in-Fialta did not – that Nina is going to die. The interesting question is, do WE, the reader, know anything that Victor-the-narrator hasn’t yet pieced together?