TPAOL Question #26 ~

by James Meek

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Linda Lee
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Unread postby Linda Lee » Mon Feb 26, 2007 10:04 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Both Samarin and Balashov took their beliefs to extreme lengths and both considered themselves to have failed. Did they? Can a person be held to such a high standard?

Balashov had a dilemma caused by the extreme beliefs of the Skoptsy. He knew he had a good chance of saving those who lived in Yazyk, but by doing so he would be condemned to hell. If he failed to act he was condemning most of those who lived in the village to death.
'If an angel falls so as to save someone, it must please God, though never so greatly that God can save the angel,' said Balashov.
( to Anna as he was leaving)
He told Develchen that he was going to hell as he left Anna's house after his visit to Alyosha.
He chose to save the people he cared about rather than stand by and accept "God's will" therefore, he considered himself a failure in his quest for paradise. His fellow Skoptsy would not even accept his body for burial for fear of contaminating themeselves, so they too saw him as a failure.
Now, do I think he failed, no, I think he redeemed himself.

Samarin, felt he failed because he did not follow one of the main tenets of the catechism of a revolutionary and put the hope of rescueing one person above his mission of destruction. It also seems he is being haunted by his act of cannibilism, committed not for the cause but for his own "selfish" reasons as he puts it to Balashov. The third reason he feels he failed is putting his feelings for Anna above his need to escape.
From my point of view I think some of his humanity survived the terrible things he had done, I wouldn't call that failure.


A man's reach should always exceed is grasp - Robert Browning
So I don't think the standard is to high unless we attach too much importance to the goal itself, it's the working towards the goal that's important. We must also give ourselves permission to fail along the way because "we learn more from our failures than we do from success." (I can't remember the author at the moment)
Serenity is not freedom from the storm but peace within the storm. ~ Unknown

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Liz
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Unread postby Liz » Mon Feb 26, 2007 10:25 pm

Linda Lee, I think you've made this clear for me.

Most of us don't see them as failing, based on what we think they did. But we are looking at them from our points of view, which differ from their own. We are not holding them to as high standards as they hold themselves. We are more accepting or forgiving. Also, because we see the whole picture or can sit back objectively, we see them as succeeding.

It is they who see themselves as failing because they have not met their own personal standards.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Linda Lee
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Unread postby Linda Lee » Mon Feb 26, 2007 10:53 pm

Liz, I would say we are both more forgiving and more objective.
Serenity is not freedom from the storm but peace within the storm. ~ Unknown

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Unread postby Red Shoes » Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:44 am

I think if we really look at Samarin from his stated point of view, then he failed way before he even got to the village; back when he decided to put his love for Katya above the cause of his revolution. According to the catechism of the revolutionary, her single life was not so important.

But if you're asking for my point of view - the point he decided to save Katya was one of his few successes. The same applies for the moment that he chose to keep Alyosha safe when on the runaway train rather than let him be a "sacrifice" for the cause.

"Can a person be held to such a high standard?"
Well, yes I guess they can but I don't believe they should. For Balashov and Samarin everything has become black and white and they've forgotten the shades of grey that make up humanity with all its mistakes, variables, needs and feelings. When you're human you should judge yourself as a human, not against some faraway idealistic representation.
"It's good to be different."


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