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Dr. Zhivago

Boris Pasternak

Chapter 4: The Advent of the Inevitable

Chapter 3: Christmas Party at the Sventitskys

Chapter 5: Farewell to the Past

Summary

As Lara lays half-conscious on the Sventitskys' bed, Komarovsky angrily paces back and forth. He is disturbed by the girl's actions, but, at the same time, he is bothered by his own remaining attraction toward her. He decides to rent a room for her and takes her there still sick with brain fever.

The owner of the apartment, Ruffina Onissimovna, takes an immediate disliking to Lara. Komarovsky leaves her alone, but Kologrigov comes to visit and recommends a different apartment to her. He gives her ten thousand rubles as a bonus for Lipa's graduation, though Lara is reluctant to take it. She rents the apartment he recommended. Pasha and Lara decide to marry at once. Nine days later, they receive their exam results and are offered jobs teaching in Yuryatin, the town in the Ural Mountains where Lara was born. Lara gives birth to a daughter, Katya. A few years later, Pasha decides to enlist in the army, realizing that Lara does not love him so much as she enjoys the lifestyle he signifies. When she stops receiving letters from Pasha, she goes on a mission to find him. She leaves Katya with Lipa in Moscow and gets a job as a nurse on a hospital train headed for Liski, the last address from which Pasha sent letters.

Yura, now called Yury, waits for news of his wife outside the gynecological ward of a hospital. He is not allowed to see her, even after she gives birth to a little boy. Misha Gordon decides to visit Yury Zhivago. Yury shows him the terrible results of the war and the suffering caused by of modern methods of fighting. Yury tells Misha that the medical unit is being forced to evacuate, and during the night, they hear gunfire. As he is escorting Misha to the first evacuation party, he is knocked unconscious by an explosion.

As Yury is recovering in the officers' ward with Yusupka Galiullin, he sees Lara--who is now a nurse--come in and he recognizes her. Galiullin tells Lara that he knew her husband, and she asks how he died. He lies, saying he was taken prisoner. Lara is intrigued by Yury, who is gruff to her, but decides that there is no hope left for Pasha and that her duty is to return to her daughter and her job. As she is contemplating the passing of time, patients run in shouting that the revolution has broken out in Petersburg.

Commentary

The many young characters of the novel find themselves in the throes of World War I, in which Russia suffered heavy casualties. The Russian army was ill-equipped to fight on such a large scale, and many soldiers fought without weapons or shoes. The war affects the characters in different ways: Pasha sees it as an opportunity to escape from his unsatisfactory marriage, Zhivago is called upon to apply his medical skills toward an unsavory task, and Misha finds himself contemplating his own position as a member of the aristocracy and as a Jew.

Again, Zhivago and Lara meet under difficult circumstances. When he sees her, he is immediately reminded of Anna's funeral and so does not act warmly toward the young nurse. For her part, Lara is aware of Pasha's probable death but does not react dramatically or even emotionally. She decides, pragmatically, that she should collect her daughter and go home to the Urals. While she wants more information about her husband's death, she also knows she does not love Pasha wholeheartedly. His youthful infatuation with her was an easy exit from her confused dealings with an older, more manipulative man. Now that Pasha is dead she can move on.

Yury and Misha examine religion more closely in their conversations during this chapter, focusing much of their attention on the Jews. The question of religion will become more important after the revolution: Leninists attempted to do away with the traditional religious values held by the Russian people. When Lara hears patients shouting about revolution, she cannot understand the far-reaching implications of this announcement: Russia is to change forever, and her life will change along with it.

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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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