Study Guide

Doctor Zhivago Part 5: Farewell to the Old

By Boris Pasternak

Part 5: Farewell to the Old

Part 5, Chapter 1

  • This short chapter tells us two main things: the little town that Zhivago is staying in is called Meliuzeevo, and his work often throws him into Lara's company.
  • Galiullin, Zhivago, and Lara all fill in for different types of government roles in the town. But all of them just want to get back to their homes and their permanent jobs.

Part 5, Chapter 2

  • Zhivago writes a letter home to Tonya, telling her that things are going well at the front. He also mentions that he has run into Lara. He tries to remind his wife of who Lara is by telling the story of Lara shooting at Komarovsky on the night that Tonya's mother, Anna, passed away.
  • Zhivago also tells his wife that he might be arriving home any day now, since he has decided to leave his post and go home.
  • Even before he is able to leave, though, Zhivago gets a letter back from his wife. It says that he shouldn't bother coming back to Moscow, but should instead go to the Urals with the beautiful nurse he's just met. Apparently, Tonya is a very jealous wife, and she suspects that Yuri has something going on with Lara.
  • Tonya tells him not to worry about their son Sashenka. She'll have little trouble raising him on her own. Either Tonya is kind of crazy or really, really sarcastic. We're guessing it's the latter in this case.
  • Zhivago rushes to answer the letter instantly, telling his wife that she's crazy and that he's not at all interested in Lara.
  • Zhivago says that he's been living in the same boarding house as Lara but doesn't even know which room is hers.

Part 5, Chapter 3

  • There is a town close to where Zhivago is staying called Zybushino. For two weeks, people in this place declare the town an independent republic, and its army is made up mostly of soldiers who have deserted from the war. Now that revolution is happening inside the country and war outside, it's tough for anyone to tell soldiers what to do.
  • Eventually, a government unit steps in and crushes the local republic. The army deserters flee the town and lodge in the nearby town of Biriuchi.

Part 5, Chapter 4

  • In Zhivago's boarding house, there's an older housekeeper named Mlle. Fleury who is a bit of a busybody and gossip. She figures that there must be some sort of romantic attachment between Zhivago and Lara.
  • Whenever she sees the two of them together, Mlle. Fleury winks at them.
  • Working with Mlle. Fleury is a woman named Ustinya, who makes a name for herself as a public speaker at some of the local political rallies.

Part 5, Chapter 5

  • Zhivago is preparing to leave Meliuzeevo when a new commissar (an army management guy) shows up in the town. Even though he has a high rank, the guy is just a kid.
  • During these days, the Russian government is trying to do everything it can to get its soldiers to return to the front and start fighting the Germans again.
  • The visiting commissar is full of himself, totally inexperienced, and too idealistic. He is convinced that he can sway all of the rebelling soldiers into fighting for their country again if he gives them a pretty speech. Everyone, including Zhivago, warns him against doing this, but he won't hear of it.
  • Zhivago eventually gets fed up and decides to leave. He just doesn't care anymore what the commissar wants to do with himself.
  • As he leaves, Zhivago realizes that he still needs to have an unpleasant conversation with Lara, even though the thought of seeing her under any circumstances still pleases him.
  • Ooooooh. Scandalous.

Part 5, Chapter 6

  • When Zhivago asks to see Lara, the gossipy Mlle. Fleury is amazed to find out that he doesn't know which room Lara is staying in. She, of course, has assumed that they're an item.
  • Zhivago is just about to knock when he decides that it would be better to visit Lara the next day, since she is probably tired after a day of work.
  • Zhivago goes to the end of the hallway and sticks his head out into a world filled with the smell of flowers and trees in bloom. This is all probably symbolic of the fact that he's smitten with Lara.
  • In order to stop himself from feeling so amorous, the doctor decides to go listen to a boring public meeting down the road.

Part 5, Chapter 7

  • As Zhivago walks down the road to the public meeting, he can hear a voice in the distance. He soon realizes that it's the voice of Gintz, the brash young commissar who thinks that he can sway crowds with nothing more than his silver tongue.
  • Gintz is trying to remind the crowd that it's foolish to have a revolution while you're trying to fight a foreign enemy. Remember, it's still World War I, and the Russians are supposed to be fighting the Germans.
  • The crowd, though, doesn't seem to appreciate Gintz's message. They start shouting over him.
  • The local woman named Ustinya gets up beside the commissar and starts trying to give her own speech. But the crowd calls her out when she messes up one of the Bible passages she's trying to quote.

Part 5, Chapter 8

  • The next day, Zhivago tracks down Lara. She asks him why he didn't knock on her door the night before, since Mlle. Fleury told her about his coming to see her.
  • The two of them make small talk about going back to their regular pre-war lives. Lara says that Zhivago will forget her quickly, while he argues that this isn't true.
  • Zhivago mentions the young commissar named Gintz and talks about how horrible the young man is at trying to lead a crowd.
  • Zhivago and Lara talk about how foolish it will be for Gintz to try to take on the army deserters.
  • Zhivago starts ranting a little bit about socialism and the Russian Revolution. By the time he's done, Lara is staring at him uncertainly, wondering if he's going off the rails.
  • During his rants, Zhivago unintentionally reveals that he cares very deeply about Lara. He asks for forgiveness, but it's too late. Lara admits that she has always feared that there's something between them.
  • Lara has got so caught up in his speech that she has let her iron burn through a shirt. She gets mad and tells Zhivago to go drink a glass of water and come back when he's more in control of himself.

Part 5, Chapter 9

  • One night, there is a ferocious storm outside Zhivago's boarding house. Mlle. Fleury hears a banging at the door, and she waits for someone else to go answer it. As an elderly lady, she's not comfortable opening the door by herself for a stranger in the middle of the night.
  • Mlle. Fleury gets upset that no one else is offering to get up and answer it.
  • Mlle. Fleury suddenly wonders if Lieutenant Galiullin is the one knocking on the door. We find out that Mlle. Fleury and Zhivago are responsible for changing Galiullin into civilian clothes and hiding him from the authorities. So in other words, this Galiullin guy has done something to get himself into trouble.
  • Horror of horrors, we then find out that Galiullin was part of a mob that recently murdered the young new commissar named Gintz.
  • So yeah, Mlle. Fleury thinks Galiullin is at the door now.
  • On her way to the door, Mlle. Fleury goes to wake up Zhivago. Zhivago is already awake and making his way to the door, so they meet up in the hallway.
  • Mlle. Fleury and Zhivago peer outside and can't find anyone. Then they figure that a tree must be knocking against the house.
  • It turns out that Lara has already left to go home to her daughter. Zhivago is sort of disappointed that it wasn't Lara at the door, coming back.

Part 5, Chapter 10

  • Now we're going to find out about that riot at the train station, which was apparently caused by a guy named Kolya Frolenko.
  • Here's how it all went down:
  • Apparently, Commisar Gintz wants to talk to an angry mob of revolting soldiers. But Galiullin asks to speak to him before he makes any rash decisions.
  • Before long, a bunch of men on horses surrounds the nearby group of deserting soldiers. Commisar Gintz runs into the middle of this group and starts giving a speech to the surrounded men. He talks about patriotism and the motherland and blah blah blah… the soldiers are like: "Do not want."
  • Eventually, the crowd tells Gintz to shut up. His pride is hurt, since he fancies himself a very convincing public speaker.
  • Even the guys under Gintz's command are getting really annoyed with him. They all start to put away their swords, as if saying to Gintz, "You're on your own, buddy." They whisper to Gintz that he should take this opportunity to get back on his train and hightail it out of there.
  • Gintz starts walking away. But all of the soldiers start following him with guns in their hands. Yeah, that doesn't look good.
  • When he sees the train station, Gintz breaks into a run.
  • Gintz has an opportunity to go inside the train station and save himself. But once again, pride forces him to turn around and address the angry mob. Dude.
  • Gintz jumps up on top of a water barrel to address the crowd. For a moment, the soldiers lower their guns out of respect.
  • Unfortunately, Gintz steps too close to the edge of the barrel and flips the lid that he's standing on. One of his legs falls straight into the water, while the other hangs down the outside of the barrel.
  • The soldiers laugh hysterically at this silliness, then one of them shoots Gintz point-blank in the neck. The others all charge and stab his dead body with bayonets.
  • Yup, that just happened.

Part 5, Chapter 11

  • This chapter just gives us a quick telephone exchange, in which Mlle. Fleury arranges for Zhivago to get a spot on the next train back to Moscow.

Part 5, Chapter 12

  • Zhivago moves for his train car alongside a railway guy. To get there, he has to move through a huge crowd of refugees trying desperately to get on the same train.
  • The war has totally ruined this part of Russia, although the train guy says he's happy that everyone is going away. Now he feels that things can get back to normal in Meliuzeevo.
  • Finally, the train guy tells Zhivago to avoid the current train, saying he'll be crushed beneath the people crowding in. He promises to get Zhivago on a special privileged train that they're running for people like himself.

Part 5, Chapter 13

  • As Zhivago's special train starts moving, people start swarming in from all sides, trying to jump onto the roof and sides of the train. Everyone really wants to get out of town. Zhivago is squeezed into a hallway, where he takes a seat on the floor.
  • During the ride, the doctor smells the fragrance of linden trees coming through the window. The smell is something he associates with his blooming love for Lara. He wants to get up and look out the window, but he's too hemmed in by other people to move.

Part 5, Chapter 14

  • At one of the train junctions, a railway guy puts Zhivago on another, even more special train to give him a bit more room for his journey home.
  • Zhivago ends up in a compartment with only one other person in it: a young blonde man who is travelling with a dog. Zhivago also notices the man's double-barreled shotgun and realizes that he must be a hunter.
  • The young man starts talking, and Zhivago realizes that he has an unpleasantly high-pitched voice and a weird way of pronouncing certain vowels. As a doctor, Zhivago is curious about what kind of condition might explain the young man's behavior.
  • Later on, the young man puts out the candle and they both lie in the dark.
  • From his upper bunk, Zhivago asks the young man to close the window. But the young man doesn't answer.
  • When he looks down, Zhivago sees that the young man is still wide awake. He simply hasn't answered Zhivago's question. When Zhivago asks him face-to-face, though, the guy answers that he'd rather keep it open.
  • Zhivago goes back to bed, surprised that the young man only seems to answer his questions when he can see his face.

Part 5, Chapter 15

  • While he rides the train home, Zhivago thinks about how the experience of war has changed him and made him see the pointlessness of mass violence. He knows that the violence will continue, now that Russia is having a full-blown revolution.
  • Zhivago realizes that the revolution people used to talk about in school sounded a lot more dignified than the one currently happening in Russia.
  • Part of this new life for Zhivago is his love for Lara Antipova. Still, he wishes that he didn't love her.

Part 5, Chapter 16

  • The next day, Zhivago wakes up to the sound of the young man in his compartment trying to calm down his dog.
  • Zhivago continues to be confused by how the young man only responds to certain questions and is totally silent at others. He tries to come up with a bunch of fancy explanations for why the young man is like this. It might be a neurological condition, or it might be part of the young man's radical political beliefs.
  • Eventually, the young man notices the strange glances that Zhivago's giving him, and he asks whether Zhivago has already figured out what's wrong with him. He gives Zhivago two cards, and one of the cards has symbols for sign language on it.
  • Of course, Zhivago realizes that the young man is deaf. That's why he wouldn't answer Zhivago in the dark. He gets by reading people's lips.
  • Zhivago and the young man go on speaking about revolution. The young man is really excited about what the revolution will bring, while Zhivago is much more skeptical.
  • The young man insists that the only way to remake society is through bloody revolution. Zhivago isn't too keen on this option, though. He's had enough war for one lifetime.
  • Looking out the window, Zhivago realizes that the train is approaching Moscow.
  • Before Zhivago leaves, though, the young man gives him one of the ducks he shot on his hunting trip. A duck would be worth quite a bit of money in current Russia, so it's definitely a generous gift.