Study Guide

A Russian Beauty Appearances

By Vladimir Nabokov

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You'd think that with a title like "A Russian Beauty," appearance would be a huge part of this story. Not so much. Don't get us wrong, Olga's beauty is a big part of her redemption at the end of the tale, but it doesn't seem to do much else for her. Beauty only takes her so far, but it can't save her life. Just like in the real world, appearance isn't everything. Sure, it's a big part of how people are treated, but just like the misleading title of this story, it's not as important as you may have been led to believe.

Questions About Appearances

  1. Why do you think the narrator focuses so much on appearance in "A Russian Beauty?" What affect does that focus have on the story?
  2. Are there any unattractive people in the story?
  3. What advantages do characters get because of their appearance in "A Russian Beauty?" Are there any disadvantages?
  4. Re-read the descriptions of all characters in "A Russian Beauty." Focus on their physical descriptions. Do they tell us anything about the character besides what they look like? If so, what?

Chew on This

Physical appearance is the most important descriptor of every character in "A Russian Beauty."

Even though the narrator in "A Russian Beauty" focuses on physical appearance, beauty doesn't get you everything in this short story.

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