Feed on

Are we seeing a repeat of Poor Liza in poor Dunya? Is she poor or pure? Who is innocent or guilty in this story? How do the pictures of the Prodigal Son inform us? Why are the inscriptions in German?

As for the final story of Belkin’s Tales, what is Pushkin trying to accomplish? And does he?

Read the parable at


17 Responses to ““The Station master” and “Amateur Maid””

  1. Russell Jacobs says:

    When we discussed, on Tuesday, the painting in “The Shot” I started to develop my theory about Pushkin’s goal with these Belkin stories. After learning about Wiliam Tell and the implications of the painting of Switzerland, the ending seemed, to me, to make a pretty big statement about literature. Pushkin abandons both “shots” that could be the referent of the title. We assume that either Silvio will kill the Count with “The Shot” or the other way around, but instead we get something else; they shoot a painting that symbolizes William Tell’s famous accuracy. Pushkin, in a sort of weird hybrid of symbolic and literal, commits genre assassination: his bullets, his story, is aimed at “gun fiction” (which, I believe, is what Silvio himself seems to have sitting around his house in the first part of the story). In class, we basically read “The Snow Storm” in the same light in terms of its relation to French romance fiction.
    So now, when we look at “The Stationmaster,” there’s this sense we have (and it’s mentioned above beginning with Romany’s post) that the “Prodigal Son” story is somehow being turned on its head. There’s this fiction/reality thing going on that is, on the one hand incredibly surreal and symbolic and on the other hand, more realistic. Life isn’t filled with duels and parable’s and clear-cut morals as fiction before Pushkin (I like to imagine, at least, while reading these stories) would have us think. Dunya’s tale flips the Prodigal Son story on its head. The German writing beneath implies, if my period-based european stereotypes are correctly calibrated, an underlying, unspoken rationality that accompanies the story’s relation to the parable. Pushkin’s goal is archetype assassination.

    Is he successful?

    Well, as long as we keep reading these statements into the stories, then sure.

  2. Vanda Gaidamovic says:

    As some preceding comments already noticed, I too, recognize the prodigal Father in the story (his name – Samson sounds a little like sam syn (сам сын) in Russian, meaning the very son) and the inverted mirror image of the parable. In fact, the technique of reversal seems to be essential to the plot. At first we are introduced to the repulsing image of the Postmaster, thus becoming prematurely prejudiced towards him. Yet as the storyline unfolds we learn about the human being and his troubles, and start feeling empathy for the poor man and his worries. Moreover, unlike the biblical Samson, who is a man of the unusual strength, Samson is a weak man unable of any action, not even of getting his own daughter back (another example of reversed image). The lack of characterization of the protagonists, however, leaves the notion of guilt quite detached from a specific person. To me, there are neither heroes, nor villains in Belkin’s tales. Everyone is flawed and his/her luck or misfortune lay completely or almost completely in the hands of chance. Just like German inscriptions on the pictures, depicting Prodigal Son, do not communicate their message as Samson Vyrin does not speak German, lack of communication seem to be the one to blame for everyone’s tragedy in “The Station Master”.

  3. Laura Howard says:

    I see some parallels between the relationships of the parents and their children in “Poor Liza” and “The Stationmaster”. Dunya and Liza are very different girls, yet their parents’ dependence on them is an interesting similarity in both stories. Because Liza’s mother wants Liza to be married to someone nice and of her general status in society, the reader sees that her mother cares unconditionally for Liza’s future and her well-being. She is a very simple woman who the reader may feel sorry for because she lost the only joy in life that belonged to her personally — her husband. The mother loves Liza too, but knows that one day Liza must leave her. She tells Liza, “let God arrange a place for you! Then, blessing you, my dear children, I will cross myself and calmly lie down in the damp earth”
    Liza’s mother’s own description of how she wished to depart peacefully is in line with the pure, innocent, romantic nature of the story and of Liza’s character.
    Dunya and her father, on the other hand, share an existence that seems more realistic, more hurtful, and full of external struggle. Even the descriptions of the weather — “should the weather prove intolerable, the road abominable…” lend the story a more somber tone. The father, unlike Liza’s mother, has not even entertained the idea of his daughter leaving him. Yes, maybe in a couple of years they would have discussed what would happen if Dunya were to be married, but at that time the father truly needed his daughter to run his business. We see later that he was not able to run his business, or even his own life, without the help of his daughter who cared for all of his needs.
    The father, however, did not only need Dunya on the superficial level or her “taking care of things for him”. The father truly loved his daughter, and his devastation upon her “death” — or running away — is comparable to that of Liza’s mother upon Liza’s suicide. I feel that Dunya’s decision to lose contact with her father was selfish, and therefore she is not “poor”. Liza’s decision to leave her mother was also selfish, but had very different, deep psychological motivations. The poor ones in these stories are the simple parents left behind.
    As for “the Amateur Peasant Girl”, I agree with Rouan and Sarah that this story’s departure from a girl finding herself “tossed around by fate” is refreshing. It was nice to see a girl who wasn’t meekly doing whatever possible to follow around a strapping young lad; in fact, she was doing whatever she could to avoid being recognized by this lad!

  4. Margaret Fulford says:

    On the most superficial level, The Stationmaster has a similar initial “feel” as does Poor Liza. The narrator introduces two poor characters, a single parent (widow/widower) and his/her only child, and endeavors to make the reader sympathize with them. In fact, the narrator goes to great lengths to get the reader to sympathize with Dunya’s father, Samson, describing in detail the difficulties and horrors of the job as stationmaster. Reading this story a second time, the reader may realize that this background information makes Samson the innocent victim of the story, and makes Dunya’s eloping all the more treacherous and unfortunate.
    The story of the Prodigal son, as others have said, is really toyed with in this tale. Rather than going from rich to poor, Dunya goes from poor to rich; she seems to have left willingly but not altogether happily (she finds her happiness later in life) and by the time she returns, there is mourning rather than celebration to be had, as her father had died in her absence.

    The story of the Amateur Peasant Girl was altogether a refreshing read after the other stories in Belkin’s Tales. Its place as the final Tale is fitting indeed, as it left me lighthearted and relieved. My best guess is that this was Pushkin’s intention, and if so, I think he managed quite well.

  5. Sarah Bellingham says:

    Dunya is no Poor Liza. At fourteen, she came across as a “little coquette” and a “girl who had seen the world” (69). She is not timid and is conscious of her beauty. Liza, in contrast, was an idealized, pure heroine of a proper romance. However, I would classify Dunya as predominantly “innocent” as it was not she who desired to ride with her future captor. I would also hazard that she had little or no control over seeing her father after being taken by Minsky. I would classify Minsky and Samson as “guilty” for their lack of consideration for Dunya or for each other.

    Paintings of the Prodigal Son parable hung on the wall in the home of the postmaster Samson Vyrin. As has been mentioned, the verses below the paintings were written in German, which most likely were not understood by the painting’s owner. What might Samson have seen in these paintings? After the abduction of Dunya, he must have looked at them differently. The man leaving his father, he probably viewed as his daughter abandoning him—even if it was not initially her fault. The loose woman in the second painting must have resembled Dunya to him after Samson saw her with Minsky. He clearly envisioned his daughter’s next stage to be the same as the sons, envisioning her out “tomorrow sweeping the streets” (75). For whatever reason, Samson simply could not envision Dunya’s return home. Perhaps it was the treatment he received when trying to gain an audience with her, or perhaps he simply could not muster the patience. Samson drinks himself to death before these paintings. When Dunya finally makes it home, her father is the one who has ruined himself while she prospered.

    The Amateur Peasant Girl was by far my favorite story. The female character was at last empowered, and we finally, finally got a happy ending. Throughout the tales of Belkin, Pushkin flits between, and flirts with, romance and the unexpected. By making the more predictable story the last of this sequence, Pushkin made a happy, predictable ending the last thing we would expect. Naturally, he had to mock the readers one last time—by being predictable.

  6. Kelsey Calhoun says:

    Dunya is not a poor Liza; she adapts to her kidnapping, her terrible fate, with some ease. Neither did she think of her father when deciding to stay with her kidnapper, as Liza thought of her mother when deciding whether to run after Erast. We don’t hear how willingly she leaves her home in such a fancy carriage once she realizes she isn’t going back, but she soon falls in love and stays with Minsky. I think the presence of the Prodigal Son parable is to make us question whether Samson would have met his daughter rejoicing with gratitude if she returned to him, simply because his daughter was returned to him, or if, as Brandt suggests, he had more selfish reasons for enjoying his daughter’s presence, thus resenting her being happy away from him. It also makes us question the Prodigal Son parable itself, as Pushkin gives characters in a similar situation more dimension and complexity. Dunya goes beyond the transgressions of the prodigal son, I believe, in not assisting her old father from the plushness of her newly elevated position, but instead just completely forgetting about him. Where the prodigal son simply was immature, irresponsible, and insensitive, Dunya’s attitude towards her father seems almost like mistreatment. In the end, the narrator finds a kind of comfort in the fact that Dunya visited her father’s grave and wept, but I find that a very disappointing ending. Her father is dead and they can never reconcile; she finally got around to remembering she had a father, but she was too late.

    I really enjoyed “An Amateur Peasant Girl” for how a female protagonist finally seemed to be in control of her situation and capable of affecting change in her own life, besides suicide. As Rouan said, this is one heroine who is not tossed around by fate. It was also interesting to observe the stylistic differences in behavior and speech described of Liza and Alexi in different company, as a window into Russian society and mannerisms of that time period.

  7. Melody Wang says:

    The Stationmaster certainly evokes several familiar qualities that can be found in Poor Liza: both stories involve a peasant girl and her seducer, as well as their relationship and the girl’s subsequent fate. Nevertheless, I find Dunya’s fate to be more fortunate than that of Lisa’s, especially when we juxtapose Dunya’s contrasting lifestyles: between her laborious life with her father and her extravagant life as a rich wife and mother. I perceive Liza, not necessarily as “juvenile version of Dunya”, but as the less fortunate figure, because she is exactly the figure, where Dunya’s father depicts, “that a travelling scoundrel has seduced, kept for a little while, and then abandoned” (75). Even though the hussar “abducts” Dunya and robs her away from her father, the story does not mention any reluctance on Dunya’s to elope with the hussar. In fact, Dunya, just as the hussar claims, “She loves me; she has become unaccustomed to her former way of living” (74). Furthermore, Dunya’s seducer ultimately takes responsibility for Dunya and does not abandon her after “a little while”, it is a consoling moment when the hussar promises to the father that “she will be happy, I give you my word of honour” (73). I also get the sense that Dunya is compelled to leave home, evident in the fact that when the narrator himself was ready to depart from the station, Dunya accompanies him to the coach, this detail seems to suggest Dunya’s willingness to leave home.
    At another moment, in the highly emotionally charged scene where the father gets kicked out by the hussar and finds rolls of rubles notes; the father, initially, in the most dignified and gallant fashion, flings the crumbles up notes and walks away. Yet immediately after a few steps, the father reflects and returns for the money. This detail reflects how Pushkin subtly captures the complexity of human emotions and rationality.
    What I find especially compelling about the story is that I have both disdain and sympathy toward all the characters. Even though I was initially repulsed by Dunya’s act of abandoning her father, I also sympathize with her struggles to mediate volatile customers while she has lived with her father. Therefore, I don’t think there is anything wrong with her decision to live a better life. And the final scene where she brings her three children to visit her father shows her sense of guilt and reverence for her father.

  8. Bryanna Kleber says:

    The irony in “The Station Master” lay in the fact that the answer to the station master’s issue was right in front of him. Had he been able to read German, he would have known that waiting could yield success. Instead, he becomes so discouraged by his unsuccessful journey to look for his daughter that he lets himself rot away and eventually he dies and is not alive to see his daughter when she returns.

    I do not see a connection between Liza and Dunya. The thing that strikes me as the biggest difference between the two characters is Dunya’s promiscuity and Liza’s innocence. Dunya’s father raised her to understand that her looks, body, and being were beneficial to his job. This made Dunya grow up instinctively using her looks, body, and being to get what she or her father needed. I would not go as far to say that it was essentially prostitution (she did only kiss the narrator), but the same ideologies are there, just in a PG manner.

    Comparing “The Prodigal Son” and “Amateur Maid,” both children leave home, but the prodigal son leaves wealthy (assumedly so because his father had an inheritance for him and was able to have a big feast upon the son’s return) and becomes poor, whereas Dunya leaves poor and becomes wealthy. This is interesting because the prodigal son eventually realizes the error of his ways, which I’m sure has to do with some suffering he was experiencing due to his lack of money, and returns home. I do not think that Dunya ever repents for her actions because she never had to suffer once she left home. Instead, she entered a world of luxury, and thus, had no need to return home (she returns at the end with her kids, but only for a visit). This reveals a moral in this story: wealth corrupts.

  9. Juan Machado says:

    Brandt Silver-Korn puts forth this very interesting idea that the party to blame in the story is Samson. My immediate reaction was to reject this suggestion, and I still don’t think that “blame” is quite the appropriate term, but this idea has some merit to it.

    Consider for a moment the possibility that Pushkin’s story is an inversion of the parable of the Prodigal son. The father in the parable is wealthy, whereas the father in the story is quite poor. After leaving his home with money, the son in the parable returns to his father in poverty. In the story, the daughter leaves home quite poor, but when she returns she does so in a carriage with six horses and she even has a lap dog. Also consider that while in the parable it’s the son who does the traveling, in the story it’s the father who chases after the daughter. In the parable, however, the son is received by his father with great joy, but in the story Samson is received poorly by the Hussar.

    All these subtle differences indicate to me that while Pushkin modeled his story after the parable of the Prodigal Son, he may, from a narrotological and thematic perspective, written a story that is the very opposite of the parable.

  10. Benjamin Kingstone says:

    Most significantly, “The Postmaster” offers a reversal of the Prodigal Son paradigm. In the Prodigal Son, the son returns poor though safe and reunites with his father. In Pushkin’s story, Dunya returns after the death of her father. Pushkin does not offer us the happy ending we might prefer. Instead, he plays with the reader’s expectations. After seeing the painting of the Prodigal Son not once but twice, we anticipate a similar family reunion. (The son was dead to the father and Dunya has been gone long enough to be dead to her father.) Similarly, Pushkin fails to give Samson neither the cathartic vengeance nor fate of the Biblical character who bears his name. Of course, even though these two stories are difference, Pushkin might suggest that they are really the same story; for Pushkin, it is a retelling, a new version.
    These stories remain complex because they do present a clear good/evil binary. In other words, we can’t easily sympathize with Dunya. She is in no way a reflection of Poor Liza, though Pushkin attempts to give her the same name. He uses the integrity of the egotistical narrator–“I know nearly all the post roads” (67) to inspire the reader to sympathize with Dunya. But Dunya is rich and satisfied. She most likely has more freedom than she did in the remote station where she was essentially her father’s servant.
    As for the “An Amateur Peasant Girl,” I agree with Raya that out of all Belkin’s tales, Liza as a character has the most agency. She isn’t kidnapped or lost in the snow; she is rewarded for her duplicity.

  11. Anna Mackey says:

    I agree with the others that Dunya is no Poor Liza. Dunya does not represent the purity and innocence so essential to Liza’s character, and is instead described as a “coquette” (69) and “a girl who has seen the world” (69). Though the audience is drawn to Dunya for her beauty and gregariousness, she is ultimately self-aware of these qualities and actively uses them to her advantage. Unlike Liza, this agency established in Dunya’s character makes it difficult to view her as a helpless victim. However it is also difficult not to view her as a victim when she is essentially kidnapped from her home. Because of this, she still maintains some innocence, and therefore the audience’s affection.

    The Father character is the one which I have more trouble deciphering. It’s true that he is perhaps guilty of loving his daughter too much – of unrealistically and selfishly wanting her to remain with him forever while also using her for the advantage of his business. But in a way, doesn’t his overbearing nature prove to be warranted? The moment the father slackens the tether and suggests Dunya ride with Minsky, she disappears from his life forever, leading the father, tormented by guilt, to believe that his daughter has become a ruined woman and nothing more than just another victim of a “young deceiver” (72). I do not believe that the first few posts have looked upon the father in a sympathetic enough light. This man had his daughter taken from him, he sent out to find her (worried that she had simply been cast aside by Minsky), is able to catch a glimpse of her once more before being forced out, refuses to lodge a complaint, and instead simply “return[s] to his station to resume his duties” (75). There he wastes away, alone and heartbroken, until he eventually drinks himself to death. It’s hard not to think of him as an innocent victim.

    The parable of The Prodigal Son is obviously significant, although in this story it’s a definite adaptation. The Prodigal Father, aside from his detour to St. Petersburg, is waiting for the return of his child, and we do see how her return proves her remorse and validates his existence, even if it is too late. Like Brandt said, the German is significant because Samson cannot understand it. However it was also interesting in “The Amateur Peasant Girl” when he references German author Jean Paul and his opinion that without “individualité….there can be no human greatness” (27). So perhaps Puskin’s deviation from the traditional story is aimed at individuality, and hopefully, greatness.

  12. Emily de Koning says:

    Are we seeing a repeat of Poor Liza in poor Dunya?
    As the others have stated I also believe that Dunya is not a repeat of poor Liza. The first thing being that they do not share in any way the same character. When our narrator converses with the fourteen year old Danya we see an intelligent talkative young woman “as I started up a conversation with her she answered without the slightest bashfulness, like a young woman who had seen the world.” this is completely different that the description of Liza who would blush and shy away easily as we witness in her first encounter with Erast.
    Second, Dunya comes from very different circumstances. Though poor she is not the sole bread earner of the family and her father is alive and well.

    Who is innocent or guilty in this story?
    I agree with Alexandra, as I see it Dunya and Minskii are the guilty and the innocent in the father, Samson. Dunya is guilty in my eyes because she abandoned her father willingly and never came back or contacted him. Minskii is also guilty for the way he duped Samson and took his daughter away. He is also guilty because of the way her treats Samson when he comes to Petersburg looking for his daughter

    How do the pictures of the Prodigal Son inform us? Why are the inscriptions in German?
    The prodigal son is deliberately present in the story as an example of a child’s sin, the consequences and the hope for reconciliation with the parents. As for the reason why the inscription in German, I agree with Brandt that it is because Samson does not understand German, and that only he can only understand the appearance the paintings and not what they mean.

  13. Alexandra Siega says:

    Are we seeing a repeat of Poor Liza in poor Dunya? Who is innocent or guilty in this story?

    Pushkin’s Dunya certainly echoes Karamzin’s Liza, for the structure of each of the characters’ lives is similar. Both young girls are involved with men above their class whom are charmed by their beauty and spirit. Each girl is at the center of her family life, for Liza is as important to her mother as Duyna is to her father, and each girl subsequently causes the demise of her parent. However, the personalities of the two characters differ too much for Dunya to be considered a full repeat of Liza. Dunya shows maturity at a young age that was lost on the naïve Liza. The stationmaster proudly describes his daughter as “so sharp and sensible,” while the narrator says that in his conversation with Dunya she answered him “without timidity, like a girl who has seen the world.” These characteristics contrast with Liza’s shyness and sheltered approach to life.

    In the comparison between the two characters the question I keep asking myself is whether Liza would have turned into the materialistic Dunya had she married Erast, or whether her love and innocence would have kept her from such a fate. Liza may be a juvenile version of Dunya. Both approach love in an incredibly romantic fashion, yet Liza’s love manifests itself immaturely in obsession, while Dunya’s love is maturely refined.

    “The Stationmaster” further reflects “Poor Liza” in rendering a response of pity from the reader, for I cannot help but fully feel sorry for Samson. The pity that I feel for Samson is akin to the pity I felt for Liza’s mother, for both parents lost their children to the fervor of love. I sympathize even more with Samson, however, because this fervor of love for Dunya is not of a pure nature, like Liza’s, but instead a petty love of a more elegant lifestyle.

    Because I feel such a strong sentiment towards the stationmaster, I can’t agree with Rouan that all of the characters are guiltless: I need to accuse someone for making Samson so pitiful. Therefore, I view Dunya and Minsky as those to blame in “The Stationmaster.” Minsky caused Dunya’s fall from grace by kidnapping her: akin to Liza’s loss of innocence. Dunya must be blamed because she gains so much from her new position while her father loses so much in her absence. Both Minsky and Dunya must take responsibility for their selfish actions, which ultimately result in Samson’s death.

  14. Flora Weeks says:

    I don’t see “The Station Master” as a retelling of “Poor Liza.” There are a few similarities, but the stories differ in a number of key ways. First, in “The Station Master,” the reader learns little to nothing of the man that Dunya leaves with. There are only ill feelings toward him as he lied in order to steal Dunya away, and there is no evidence given of Dunya’s feelings toward him. “Poor Liza” not only sheds light on the male character, but there is even reason to pity Erast in the end. Second, there is never any indication that Dunya felt sorry for herself or had any inclination toward suicide. Previous commenters have mentioned that she appeared sad and regretful upon returning to her hometown. However, I took this emotion more as a typical reaction to learning of her father’s death than a display of her regrets over previous life decisions.

    In regards to the final story, I agree that Pushkin was going for a much happier, more lighthearted story. He was likely more willing to write this story as the final tale in the collection because the reader’s expectations have already been changed by this point, and we no longer expect the story to be resolved so predictably and happily. In other contexts, a reader left with the ending of “The Amateur Maid” would almost certainly imagine the tale to be resolved happily with Liza and Alexei married. However, given the previous stories in this collection, and the way Pushkin leaves this ending slightly open, some doubt is placed in the reader’s mind as to whether there will really be a fairy tale ending.

  15. Romany Redman says:

    Who is the Prodigal Son?
    In The Station Master, Pushkin turns the parable of the Prodigal Son on its head, in more ways than one. Instead of a prodigal son, the reader meets with the idea of the prodigal daughter. She leaves home with her inheritance, in this case in the form of herself, the only child of the widowed station master, and after time spent away, she returns to her home, perhaps seeking reconciliation. Unlike the the Prodigal Son, Dunya seems to only milling around with the proverbial swine in the imagination of her distressed father. Aside from the plausible, rather spatial (she leaves then returns) parallels of Dunya, the daughter who leaves home, to the youngest son in the biblical parable, the reader can also find similarities between the fate of the Station Master himself and the prodigal son. This really throws us for a loop, where instead of prodigal son, a prodigal father leaves a ‘home’ in pursuit of some ‘ideas’ that he entertains for a time until they fail, finds himself in the street, and eventually finds reconcilement. The Station Master thought that he could keep his daughter forever to himself in the post station, almost denying her a future. So, in this metaphor, ‘home’ equals the healthy relationship between father and daughter. The Station Master effectively ‘leaves’ home when he departs from the reality that Dunya is marriageable and could have a successful future while maintaining relations with her father by believing she should stay with him at the post station forever. He even physically leaves home to St. Petersburg in pursuit of these fleeting ideals, where he runs out of “selfish-father-capital” and finds himself on the street, very muddy and very alcoholic. He dies. Reconciliation happens a bit posthumously, but nevertheless occurs, confirmed by the feeling and appreciation of Dunya when she returns to his grave.

    So there are gaps with both attempted analogous interpretations of Prodigal Daughter and Prodigal Father. But is literature incapable of complexity? I think not.

    Let’s go even further. This is the story of the Prodigal Narrator, who, while journeying, finds home among the company of the Station Master and his daughter. He leaves this ‘home’ by continuing on with his life. But through the years he does not find satisfaction with this other life he leads. The pigs part of the Narrator’s tale is all the time he spends tracking down the Post Master and Dunya. The reconciliation occurs when he realizes that the beauty of the father-daughter relationship (ultimately, part of the reason he enjoyed their company so much), was not compromised either by his absence or the tad of extra drama.

    Maybe I give to much credit to the tears of Dunya as sign of reconciliation. In that case, the parable is really turned on its head because there is no giant party at the end. Except for the kid who gets some coins. That’s a real party.

  16. Brandt Silver-Korn says:

    I do not believe that we are seeing poor Liza in Dunya. Because Dunya is kidnapped for marriage by the Hussar through an act of deception, the reader is initially sympathetic towards her and her father. However, as Samson finds out, Dunya is living a very comfortable life with him. When he sees her, she is “gazing tenderly” at the Hussar and “winding her black curls” in a clear display of affection and happiness (75). Liza is completely vulnerable and idealistic (and thus commands sympathy), whereas Dunya is described as acting like an adult.

    The guilty party here is Samson. He essentially loves having Dunya around because she makes his job as postmaster easier by calming angry travelers with her beauty and captivating demeanor. The presence of the Prodigal Son informs us to analyze this scenario in this way because the father in the parable rejoices that his son is safe, and insists on a ceremony upon his return, despite the son’s transgressions. On the other hand, upon realizing that his daughter is safe and happy, Samson does not rejoice, but rather falls deeper into despair and on occasion even wishes her into the grave. Samson is selfish and only thinking about what he has been deprived of. In the Prodigal Son, the father disregards what he is deprived of, and instead focuses on the present life and safety of his younger son. The significance of the German inscriptions might be that Samson cannot understand German, and thus, cannot understand the parable (which would explain why he doesn’t follow the moral/lesson it teaches). I am lead to believe Samson does not speak German because when the doctor speaks to the Hussar intimately he speaks in German, but Pushkin makes it clear that when the doctor is speaking to Samson, he intentionally switches to Russian.

    As for the last story, I think Pushkin was trying to accomplish a happy and predictable ending (which he succeeds with). However, because we do not definitively know if they marry (although we can assume), I think he is still poking fun at the romantic genre, by being “spared the unnecessary obligation of describing the denoument” (42).

  17. Rouan Yao says:

    Dunya does not seem in the least bit poor, as Liza did. Whereas the story of Poor Liza tells the story of a young woman whose decision leads to her suicide, The Stationmaster tells the story of a young woman whose decision raises her position in society. Even at the death of her father, the relationship for which she originally left home is unperturbed. In this way, The Stationmaster is a contrasting response to Poor Liza. Despite the fact that Dunya’s love affair led to a successful relationship with a suitable man, the story of Dunya and the Stationmaster stirred up much more emotion and pity as I read it. Perhaps this is a result of the realism that occurs in this story: the perfect tragedy that presented itself in Poor Liza is missing; instead, there is a realistic view of a poor stationmaster who lost his daughter’s heart to that of a young man. In addition, Pushkin’s story depicts Dunya’s father as a clear victim of the tragedy, while Liza herself was the intended tragic heroine in Karamzin’s piece.

    Another dimension of realism, which was lacking in Karamzin’s piece, is the lack of ‘guilt’. As with all the other Tales of Belkin which we have read, there is no clear antagonist. Dunya cannot be expected to stay with her father forever, the young man who married Dunya committed to the relationship despite the stationmaster’s forebodings, and the stationmaster cannot be faulted for wanting his daughter back. However, each character make’s their own imperfect decisions which culminated in the final tragic scene, when Dunya tries to go back to her father and finds that he is dead.

    Pushkin uses the device of the Prodigal Son to enforce another ironic end. The Prodigal Son shows one instance in which, although a child can be disobedient to his or her parents, the child, if having repented enough, would still be welcomed back. Pushkin sets up the painting to impose this theme of repentance and forgiveness, only to reveal at the end that Dunya’s offense to her father could not be forgiven. By the stationmaster’s death, Pushkin seems to be asserting a higher moral that repentance does not right all wrongs.

    Pushkin ends the series of shorts stories with An Amateur Peasant Girl. Directly following the darker story, The Stationmaster, this tale is woven in a light-hearted and rather frivolous manner. If there was any express intension for writing this last story, I feel it would be for reconciliation: Pushkin’s previous stories have all dealt with young lovers, especially women, tossed around my fate. However, it in this story, the heroine is finally one who contrives a plan to get what she wants, and ends up succeeding. This is the only story we’ve read in which the ending did not deviate completely from what Pushkin sets up us to believe. The straightforward ending is sort of a deviation in its own right, amongst a string of devious ones.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.