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Dr. Zhivago

Boris Pasternak


Chapter 13: Opposite the House of Caryatids

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Yury, aged and scraggly looking, arrives in the center of Yuryatin, where the Whites have been chased out by the Reds. He walks to Lara's apartment and sees that the windows are no longer whitewashed. He goes to her door and finds a note addressed to him. In it, Lara notifies him that she has taken Katya to Varykino to meet him. He feels happiness at hearing that she is alive and nearby but takes her trip to Varykino as a sign that his family is no longer there.

Yury goes for a haircut and encounters a woman he thinks he remembers. He finally remembers that she is the sister-in-law of Mikulitsin and Liberius's aunt. She tells him that everyone in Varykino was shot. He asks her if she knows what happened to her brother-in-law and she says that he escaped from Varykino with his second wife. Another family living there, strangers from Moscow, also escaped, but the woman's husband, a doctor, is presumed dead. Yury surmises that his family is in Moscow.

Yury stays in Lara's apartment for the night. He has nightmares and believes that he is ill. He wakes up to find Lara caring for him. He recovers from his illness under her ministrations, and then she tells him he must go back to his family in Moscow. They discuss the past, and Yury tells Lara that Komarovsky is the man who forced his father into ruin and suicide. She declares that the connection brings them closer together. They also discuss Strelnikov, and Lara says that her ties to the past are so strong that she would go back to him if he became Pasha again.

Yury finds work in Yuryatin. He and Lara discuss moving to Varykino, but he still feels he must go to Moscow. His letters have received no answer. Finally, a letter is delivered. It is from Tonya, and it says that she has given birth to a daughter, and she and the others are being deported from Russia. She writes not knowing whether Yury is alive or dead, so clearly she has not received his letters. She declares that she hopes he will get a separate visa to follow them but that she does not harbor much hope. She also says that she knows he does not love her and that she knows Lara is the opposite of herself. Yury is overcome by grief upon realizing that he will never see them again, and he falls down unconscious.


Yury goes first to Lara's apartment, although she herself expects him to travel to Varykino. While he wants to see his family, mainly for reassurance that they are still alive and well, he is driven by a more directed passion to be near Lara. He is elated to see her again. He plans to go to Moscow, but his illness, coupled with the difficulty of traveling, makes it easy for him to postpone the trip. He is in love with Lara, though he will not admit to himself that he loves her more deeply than he loves Tonya, for whom he still carries affection and loyalty.

Tonya has clearly been aware of his relationship with Lara ever since she first learned of their friendship during World War I. She was aware of their love for each other long before Yury himself would admit it, and although she is jealous and saddened, she does not feel she can prevent them from being together. In some sense, Tonya and Yury were brought together by Tonya's mother Anna, and theirs was not a true, mutual love.

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Importance of Yuri's view of communism

by chavezgt, October 27, 2013

I believe that something very important that Pasternak wanted to express is how someone's view of communism can change when he see's it from an inside perspective. When he's still a student, and lives with Tonya he supports communism for what it represents. Nonetheless, once the bolcheviks had taken Moscow, he truly lived communism, with the scarcities, and negative aspects it has, and his opinion about it changed. Because of the political context around the work, I believe that this fact must be considered while analyzing this novel.


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