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 Post subject: TPAOL Question #13 ~ The Real Samarin
PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:34 am 
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Can Samarin be described as purely evil? Do we ever see the “real” Samarin?



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 1:04 pm 
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Actually, I think not. Sam is what they call in mythological terms a shape-shifter, or trickster. He's the guy who appears out of nowhere (usually in the dark - think tunnel) and startles you. He's the personification of fear, confusion and trepidation. He's up to NO GOOD!! I loved it when Matula says Sam's accused of having an 'undefined personality' ~ that says it all in my book. Samarin stands for nothing, believes in nothing, cares about nothing, and will say anything. Pretty convincingly too.

There may have been a glimmer of the 'real' Samarin at the end, when he does the right thing and brings the child back, but you can tell he's disgusted with himself for doing so...to the point where he wants to literally cut away what he believes is the root of such ridiculous emotional attachment. He'd cut out his heart if he could. I like to think that the act of saving Aloysha was an awakening moment for Sam, but I'm afraid it wasn't. Like Angelina said, he's an anarchist through and through. He's the god of destruction run amok.

Okay, mates, prove me wrong!



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 1:28 pm 
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Parlez wrote:
Actually, I think not. Sam is what they call in mythological terms a shape-shifter, or trickster. He's the guy who appears out of nowhere (usually in the dark - think tunnel) and startles you. He's the personification of fear, confusion and trepidation. He's up to NO GOOD!! I loved it when Matula says Sam's accused of having an 'undefined personality' ~ that says it all in my book. Samarin stands for nothing, believes in nothing, cares about nothing, and will say anything. Pretty convincingly too.

There may have been a glimmer of the 'real' Samarin at the end, when he does the right thing and brings the child back, but you can tell he's disgusted with himself for doing so...to the point where he wants to literally cut away what he believes is the root of such ridiculous emotional attachment. He'd cut out his heart if he could. I like to think that the act of saving Aloysha was an awakening moment for Sam, but I'm afraid it wasn't. Like Angelina said, he's an anarchist through and through. He's the god of destruction run amok.

Okay, mates, prove me wrong!


Accord, Parlez! :toastingpirates: He he....no need to prove you wrong. :capnjack:

I just finished reading Angelina's idea (yesterday) that Samarin is trying to prove a point. Sam is, Anarchist through and through. It's difficult now, for me to put a yes/no on Sam, because of Angelina's insights yesterday. She brought up that point of him needing to proove something, which I had never really considered before, because we were all caught up in debating wether or not we wanted Sam's invitation to dinner.

I am over my head in new thoughts, and sort of wish to return to Antoinne sitting on his bench in Happy Days. But Sam, pure evil? I think Not.



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 2:32 pm 
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Depputante wrote:
I am over my head in new thoughts, and sort of wish to return to Antoinne sitting on his bench in Happy Days.


:lol: Antoine seems so benign compared to Samarin. But neither seemed real to me. I cannot relate to either one of them.

I'm still mulling over the question.....



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 2:48 pm 
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Liz wrote:
Depputante wrote:
I am over my head in new thoughts, and sort of wish to return to Antoinne sitting on his bench in Happy Days.

:lol: Antoine seems so benign compared to Samarin. But neither seemed real to me. I cannot relate to either one of them.

I'm still mulling over the question.....
I agree that they don't seem real, at least in part because none of the characters in TPAOL, IMHO, seems like a complete person. When we were discussing the id/ego/superego concept, I kept thinking that a functional person has all three aspects in their personality, and that if someone is mostly id, or symbolizes id, then they're not a complete person.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:41 pm 
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Ok let me thow in a little food for thought.

Let me play the devils advocate for a minute here, just to put some thought to the side that he is not totally insane. First as a youngster he was manipulative but not necessarily cruel, and he did find his first love Katya and stayed loyal to her throughout his life. I think there are people who take to a cause and consider it more important than life itself. Sometimses we call them heros if they die for a noble cause. This question sort of takes us back to is war a logical alterative for changing governments. Samarin just takes the same outlook and applies it to what one lone person does to attain the final goal. (Overthrow a government or win a war?) The war is full of atrocities and so is Samarin. It is just whethter the cause is just to the person or country.

Now for the other side. Samarin seems to have been so changed by the things he has done for his cause that he has lost track of the cause and became just a mercenary for overthrow of anyone in power. Somewhat like Angelina's character Rodion Raskolnikov who loses his bond with the people over committing a murder.

Maybe both sides of the coin are the real Samarin.



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:04 pm 
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Or maybe Samarin himself has lost any idea of who the real Samarin is anymore? He was manipulative and strong willed when we meet him as a young boy. That doesn't change through his college years or later. He seems to just fine tune those skills. I agree that he seems to be trying to deny his humanity and become a machine for anarchism but he can't quite make that happen. Perhaps taking Dinner along on the trek to the White Garden was a test of his ability or commitment, but if it was, he was testing himself on a journey that denied his commitment to the cause...putting the welfare of one individual over the cause.



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 5:10 pm 
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Can Samarin be described as purely evil? Do we ever see the “real” Samarin?

I don't believe Samarin is purely evil. There is some good left in him or he would not have put Katya above "The Cause", and tried to rescue her. He also would not have returned Alyosha, he would have let him die as he made his escape. It is a part of himself he wants to deny, he will even try castration to rid himself of this last part of his humanity. The ability to feel love.


I don't think we ever see all of Samarin, I think we see small glimpses of him in different times in his life. We see a person with a strong will even from a young age. He is also capable of love, he loved his uncle as a boy, and Katya as a young man. He feels at least a tenderness for Anna. We see he can be ruthless in pursuit of his goals to the point of inhumanity. He's very manipulative - does he start believing his own stories?



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 5:47 pm 
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Yes, it's hard for me to imagine anyone reaching the conclusion that their life is sooo awful/painful/horrible/purposeless/unworthy/whatever that the only course of action is to move into a retirement home, or overthrow a government! Of the two options, I'll go with Antoine. Afterall, he didn't try to drag anyone else along on his deluded quest for detachment...and the food at Happy Days was much more better than what Sam brought along.:omg:
It could be that Samarin was trying to prove himself out there on the tundra, but his little Outward Bound trek didn't turn out to be much of character builder, did it? Quite the contrary - it wiped out whatever character he might've possessed at the beginning. As he himself said, he became a manifestation, not a man.



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 5:58 pm 
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I don't believe that he is purely evil. It is hard to say if we see the real Samarin - but I am going mainly on his actions not his words. He is a cannibal and a terrorist. He throws the incriminating hand away - and washes his hand afterwards - a sign of his guilt troubling him. He murders the shaman. He uses Anna and Alyosha. He tries three times to save Katya, at some risk and trouble to himself. I He saves Alyosha. He 'confesses' his weakness to Balashov in his search for a way out from this. He admits that his actions have left an imprint on him. He writes liar on the shaman - not just to discredit the shaman, but because he doesn't like what he has told him - way too close to the mark. I also think he comes closest to being, er , genuine, if I dare use such a word for him, when he is with Balashov. That appears to be genuine, when he asks to be castrated and explains why. But Balashov in this instance, seems to know him better than he knows himself. I'm also willing to go so far as to speculate about the tunnel passage. I think we see the real him there, such as when he is talking about his dream, of leaving a mark on the world. A thread on the wire, at least. To be honest, I think Balashov and Samarin see each other very clearly. Samarin is pretty honest with him, on the whole, by his standards.



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 6:28 pm 
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I agree with you, girls, about Samarin. I think, DidHot brilliant summarized all his inner conflicts. Poor man. I have to confess, for me he is the most sympathetic characters in the book, and the most alive. I said earlier (I don’t know, if I’m right or no), James Meek was too calm to his characters, often they look like schemes, but not the real people. It’s a surprising, it seems to me, Samarin suffered more than all from author's aspiration to load all his actions with different additional metaphors, but despite on it Samarin is the most interesting person in the book. I think, I can see the “real” Samarin. As DidHot and Gemini said, he was a good kind child first of all. He loved to read, he tried to protect their servants.
I think, James Meek did a little mistake, he didn’t show us the reasons, why Samarin decided to become the revolutionary and the anarchist. I would like to remember here the quote from French historian Jean Misheleu: “You, sentimental people, who shudder from horrors of revolutions – give two tears also to horrors, which evoked that revolution”. Despite, we all understand now, the terror is inadmissible means, the terrorists in 19th century attracted the best people in Russia. It was the people, who couldn’t watch calmly the poverty, the hunger, the inequality between classes. The idea, that it might be change, if tsar and some members of government will be executed, was pretty popular. And, as we saw in the tidbits, that revolutionary action started to demand from them the renunciations, the sacrifices, the proofs etc. I loved, as DidHot said: “Samarin tried to become a machine for anarchism but he can't quite make that happen”. I agree completely. I think, he wasn’t able to kill a human in himself, and for this I love him.
Where I see his human essence? Of course, Katya Orlova. I don’t sure, if it was love to her, but the remorse – definitely. He exposed the young girl to the danger, she suffers by his guilty, and he leaves all his revolutionary deals to safe her. Anna and his love to her. And Alyosha. He was able to overcome his love to woman (if to make himself to think so), but the love to the child – not.

Parlez wrote:
There may have been a glimmer of the 'real' Samarin at the end, when he does the right thing and brings the child back, but you can tell he's disgusted with himself for doing so...to the point where he wants to literally cut away what he believes is the root of such ridiculous emotional attachment. He'd cut out his heart if he could. I like to think that the act of saving Aloysha was an awakening moment for Sam, but I'm afraid it wasn't.

To me, I think, it was. More of that, I think, exactly it was more logical for Samarin, than his cannibalism, the action with the shaman (I mean “liar”) etc. I think, James Meek wanted to intrigue us and to show us the horrors of the terrorism and the anarchism, so, he prevented us to form our reference to Samarin through a whole book, and tried to excite our disgust to Samarin very much. Like Mutz, James Meek wanted us to don’t love him. But in my mind, Meek wasn't able to manage this task properly – I don’t know, why. May be, Samarin charmed him too. Image



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 7:31 pm 
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Angelina, I would have liked to see more of what motivated Samarin to become what he did in the book as well. As I learned more about Russian history of the period and all the upheaval it did begin to make more sense.

I agree with those of you who said he is not purely evil. We do see glimpses of the human behind the machine with Katya, Anna and Alyosha. He wanted to be I think, but he couldn't totally deny his humanity in the end.



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:26 pm 
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Angelina:
I am in agreement with you about Samarin. . .
As I began my read of the book, Samarin was there, up front, first chapter, so my interest was peaked. It felt like he was the main protagonist. But from first to second chapter there was a huge gap, that seemingly took him from being a cool guy to the revolting person he turned out to be.

I still question his cannibalism, as it was only HIM left to tell the story of eating his companion. Like if he did it to survive, and lived! why boast to everyone about doing it ???? ( If this were a film, perhaps we might see something to this evidence that would make it a reality ).

Towards the end, with the train scene and Aloysha, we see a different Samarin, as well as in the barn with Balshov. I think Samarin was balancing between two worlds, love and hate, feeling vs unfeeling. . .and that was the real Samarin. Angelina, yes, he is the most complex character in this book, more so than the others. . .the one you always seem to question his motives, actions. . .I have a great curiosity about the man.

Lady Jill



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:04 pm 
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I do too, Lady Jill and Angelina!! To me he's the most charming, brilliant, charismatic, diabolical, interesting, multi-layered character in the book, or any book for that matter! I don't think I've ever encountered a 'villian' quite like him.
I'm still not convinced he had a change of heart at the end, but I can see that he showed, in rescuing the child, an impulse to preserve life, which is a very human impulse, or instinct if you like. The child touched him in a way noone else had and brought out his dormant sense of humanity, almost against his will.
And, you're right, Angelina ~ we don't see what Sam saw that caused him to get involved in the revolution. All I saw in the beginning was a young man trying to attract the attention of a young girl in a very manipulative way. I saw more of situation, in terms of the poverty, etc., through Anna's eyes. By the time Sam got around to explaining himself in Yazyk, it sounded like a lot of propaganda to me; a lot of spin. I wasn't sure if I believed him...but that's the whole point, isn't it?! We're always off balance with Samarin, wondering what the :censored: to believe about the guy!!



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 10:04 pm 
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Parlez wrote:
I wasn't sure if I believed him...but that's the whole point, isn't it?! We're always off balance with Samarin, wondering what the :censored: to believe about the guy!!


Agreed! I wonder if he ever really did go to the White Garden or not.

If Johnny ever does this movie, I expect more Deppth.



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