Study Guide

A Russian Beauty Plot Analysis

By Vladimir Nabokov

Plot Analysis

Initial Situation

A Darling Child

All is well in Olga's childhood home of St. Petersburg. She's rich and pretty, what else could she ask for? Sounds like the setup for pretty happy story.

Rising Action

We Miss the Tsar

Olga says bye-bye to her childhood because by the second paragraph it's all shattered. Her mom dies of typhoid, her brother is shot by a firing squad, and she flees the country with her father. If you were looking for conflict, you got it.

Climax

It Gets Worse

You'd think that losing two family members and fleeing the country would be the most terrible part of the story, but it's not. After Olga's dad dies she falls into poverty, doesn't see her friends anymore, and becomes old and bitter. It's not a happy story. But then everything changes when Olga sees her friend Vera again. It looks like things are finally turning around for Olga.

Falling Action

What Boors!

It turns out Vera wants to set Olga up with a husband. Great. Isn't that what she's been wanting the whole story? Evidently not, since she totally ignores him. Something tells us that we're going to reach the end of Olga's story soon.

Conclusion

By the Way, She Dies

The conclusion sneaks up on us. One moment Olga's getting proposed to, and the next moment she's died in childbirth. Our narrator isn't too helpful either. They seem just as confused as we are.