Monday, December 13, 2010

Coming Home


 After serving on the front line for over a year, Yury returns to Moscow to find a city reduced to groveling for firewood to keep warm against the oncoming winter.  He finds his home among the ruins of the city only to be forced to wait until finally Tonya comes down to greet him.  It is an awkward homecoming as Yury finds his son a toddler who runs for cover when he enters.  As best he can he tries to resume the life he formerly had with no mention and apparently not even any thoughts of Lara.   

Pasternak has a wonderful eye for detail in this chapter and those that follow, capturing the sense of a city and a country at its lowest point, unsure which direction the revolution will take.  He paints a portrait of the fledgling house administrations and the chaos that surrounds the city as the provisional government struggles for control. 

Yury seems to have adopted a fatalistic view, taking each day as it comes. In these chapters, we are finally introduced to the Gromekos.  He accepts the harshness of the conditions, almost relishing the reduced status of their former household, as they now have to make due with three rooms in the former city villa.  His father-in-law fills him in on the details, and eventually he reunites with Misha and a few other of his old friends.  He renews his relationship with Tonya and seems quite happy to be part of the family again.

He goes back to work at his former hospital, noting the changes that have taken place.  He can neither bring himself to fully align himself with the Bolsheviks or accept the defeatism of the old guard.  Yury is very much his own man, taking time out to write poems in between managing the supplies of the hospital.

There are some odd encounters, such as a young man in the vestibule of an old building, which Yury had ducked into to escape the cold.  The young man in his heavy fur coat drifts in and out of his dreams as he battles typhus.  Afterward, Tonya tells him that the boy was a distant relation of his and provided badly needed food and supplies during this time. 

But, just as things seems to have finaly fallen into a pattern, his father-in-law and Tonya decide to flee to their old estate in the Urals.  Yury is against the move, but the Gromekos feel this is their only chance to survive what promises to be another harsh year as the Soviet government has yet to restore any order to the country.  They get by mostly on favors and at the tale end of a long miserable winter decide to leave for Varykino.

Lara gets only passing mention at the end of the chapter as Yury encounters the mother of a soldier who helped Lara and him out at the hospital on the front.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting how in this and succeeding chapters Pasternak treats Lara incidentally, while developing more fully the relationship between Yury and Tonya.

    It is clear that he wanted to establish the relationship between Zhivago and Lara first and have it lingering in your mind as it would in Yury's mind upon his return to Moscow. Yury never mentioned Lara, but you know she's there.

    One of many poetic devices Pasternak uses in this novel.

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