So if anyone is following this, you’ll notice that I’m an absolute idiot because when I did an earlier post covering a lot of ground, I forgot that we were already TOLD what happened between Nekkie and Maslova that Eastertime. Therefore, I should fill in some blanks. Just think of it as an exclusive… there’s lots to tell. 😉
So, Nekhlyudov had to stay with his aunts after spending some time in the service. It was only about a week or so, but a lot can happen in a week.
He met Katusha (Maslova), and was instantly smitten. Lol he was cute.
Then Easter Midnight Mass came — the pinnacle of Nekkie and Katusha’s relationship. This is the purest, most gentle thing.
Here Tolstoy talks about man possessing two beings: one which is animal and one which is spiritual. (Of course this is completely dualistic and terrible metaphysics/theology, but we’ll allow it.) In this instance, the spiritual Nekkie is allowed to thrive, and it’s all thanks to Katusha.
This is one of my favorite parts because it shows the power of beauty and goodness to inspire the same in others. For a moment at least, the love between Nekhlyudov and Maslova is elevating.
“In the love between a man and a woman there always comes a moment when this love has reached its zenith–a moment when it is unconscious, unreasoning, and with nothing sensual about it.”
Ok, for a moment, I’m going to be real with you guys. Do you know what he’s talking about? I feel like very few people do anymore. Or if they do, they’ve let themselves forget about it because they assume it will never happen and they’d waste their golden years waiting if they pursued it.
Well, I haven’t even figured it all out yet and I can already tell you it’s worth pursuing. In my personal life, I’ve been very selective about who I choose to spend my time with on that front, and I just wanna ask:
Have you ever leaned on someone, drawing strength from their mere voice?
Or have you been moved by just staring into the depths of their eyes?
Maybe you felt uplifted just from the familiarity and goodness of their soul?
Wait for those things, because I’ve been able to personally relate to what Tolstoy was talking about.
TBD on whether or not he will let this win out or not. Probably not, to be honest. It’s Russian. But we’ll see.
Here’s some more about her:
“When he now recalled Katusha, that moment veiled all else: . . . her whole being stamped with those two marked characteristics, purity and chaste love–love not only for him (he knew that) but for everybody and everything, not for the good alone but for all that is in the world, even for that beggar whom she had kissed.”
Sometimes when girls read characters like this, I think they get the wrong idea. At least some girls I know decide that they don’t want a virtuous woman as a main character in a book because they aren’t able to relate. I disagree. Most girls I know who are in their first bloom of romance act a bit like Katusha.
It’s so easy to be good when you’re happy. And those discovering their first love are among the happiest people in existence. For that moment, their longing to nurture and create the beauty and goodness in the world seems attainable. And why shouldn’t it be, if they are fulfilled?
This was Katusha before her terrible disappointments, after which, perhaps all the cynical may relax and “relate” to her as much as they want. (If you sense a longing to write a blog post about this very subject, you aren’t mistaken.)
“He knew she had that love in her, because that night and morning he was conscious of it in himself, and conscious that in this love he became one with her. Ah! If it had all stopped there, at the point it had reached that night!”
Unfortunately, next something dreadful happens which really highlights Tolstoy’s use of Nekhlyudov as an image of mankind at large, and more specifically, man’s troubling concupiscence and likeliness to fall.
At this point, I feel bad for hyping up Nekkie’s scandal because it is quite sad.
Here’s what happened:
When Katusha comes by Nekhlyudov’s room after mass to tell him that dinner is prepared, he decides to pursue her. When she asks him by name, Dmitry Ivanich, to stop, he becomes momentarily confused and ashamed, but Tolstoy allows his baser desires to overcome his conscious, which has already been weakened from being around his rather vulgar contemporaries during his time in the service.
” . . . this confusing and shame were caused by the best feelings of his soul demanding to be set free; but he thought it was only his stupidity, and that he ought to behave as everyone else did. He overtook her again and kissed her on the neck.”
It wasn’t that he kissed her. He kissed her earlier that night on the lips, but it was something pure and beautiful because it was sought under respect and love, and it was freely given. This one he stole out of lust.
Tolstoy says at least seven or eight times that Nekhlyudov knew he was doing wrong and that he could feel the goodness of his soul objecting, but at this point, after he’d allowed himself to steal that kiss, “[d]esire had taken entire possession of him.”
And very soon, he can’t stop himself. He takes Katusha for his own.
This section is very worth reading. There’s pathetic imagery everywhere (the surroundings reflecting the struggle going on between the characters’ relationships).
Then, the most tragic of all, Nekhlyudov leaves. It’s convenient for him because it would be difficult for him to keep up this thing he has with Katusha. After all, she’s pretty much a servant. And then… he PAYS her. Because it’s the thing to do.
“‘Take it; oh, you must!’ he stammered, and thrust the envelope into the bib of her apron, and ran back to his room, groaning and frowning as if he had hurt himself. . . . ‘And if everyone does the same … well, I suppose it can’t be helped.’ In this way he tried to get peace of mind, but in vain.”
So he leaves, and later, when he hears of a child and her being sent away, though it may all be on account of him, he does nothing out of shame and embarrassment.
We fell this low; our characters can only go up from here. Or to Siberia.
Tolstoy, Leo. Resurrection. New York: Barnes and Noble Inc., 2006. Print.