Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Varykino Again

After several weeks, Zhivago stumbles back to the town of Yuriatin, looking like a ragamuffin.  He manages to find a seamstress who cuts his hair and beard so that he will look more presentable to Lara, who has left a note for him in the little brick hole by the door to her flat.

Yury had made the conscious choice to return to Lara and not Tonya, although it wouldn't have mattered as Tonya and her father had long returned to Moscow and were now in the process of being deported, along with Yury's son and daughter.  Lara had gone with her daughter to Varykino thinking Yury would first return there.

Eventually our lovers find each other, but the final love scene plays out in a rather odd unromantic way, as Yury is once again torn by his emotions.  Lara plays the dutiful lover, administering to his every need.  Yury seems to find more appreciation for work habits than the tenderness she shows toward him.  With Komarovsky sniffing around town, they decide to hide out in Varykino.

Yury used the time mostly to put his poems in order while the two battled the cruel winter.  Lara's daughter seems to feel trapped in the remote estate.  A sense of uneasiness pervades the scene, the two seemed to realize that what they have wouldn't last long, although Lara has fully committed herself to Yury.  Komarovsky reappears, warning them that their lives are in imminent danger, as is that of Strelnikov, who has gone AWOL.  Not sure what to do, Yury urges Lara to go with Komarovsky while he stays behind to tie up a few loose ends before joining them on a train to the East.

As if on cue, Strelnikov pitches up, and he and Yury once again have a tete-a-tete, although much more pleasant than the one before. All the fire seems to have gone of Pavel Antipov.  He just wants Yury to tell him as much as he can of Lara.  The next day,  Yury finds Strelnikov face down in the snow with a little rivulet of blood streaming from his head, the color of wild rowanberries.

Yury never makes it to the train.  He knows he will never see Lara or Tonya or his children ever again.  He consigns himself to his fate, returning to Moscow a defeated man.


The oddest thing to me about this story is how the love between Yury and Lara is never fully realized.  It floats more like a dream throughout the novel, with the action pretty much consigned to 3 or 4 chapters.  Pasternak appears to struggle with these scenes.  His heart seems more in the war scenes and the journeys across the vast countryside, seeming to indicate that Pasternak's, and in turn Zhivago's,  real love is for Mother Russia, which has literally been cleaved in half by the warring factions.  Yury's love for Lara hovers over the story as some democratic ideal, something Zhivago knows he will never be able to realize. 

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