A Hero of Our Time, part 16: How Society Creates Its Pechorins

With the passage of time Pechorin tires of Bela (see part 15) and becomes inattentive, causing her great distress. Here his friend tries to intercede on her behalf.

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“I decided to have a talk with him about this. ‘Listen, Maksim Maksimich,’ he replied, ‘I have an unfortunate character. Whether it is my upbringing that made me like that or God who created me so, I don’t know. I know only that if I cause unhappiness to others I myself am no less unhappy. I realize this is poor consolation for them–but the fact remains that it’s so. In my early youth after leaving my parents, I plunged into all the pleasures money could buy, and naturally these pleasures grew distasteful to me. Then I went into high society, but soon enough grew tired of it; I fell in love with beautiful society women and was loved by them, but their love only aggravated my imagination and vanity while my heart remained desolate . . . I began to read and to study, but wearied of learning too. I saw that neither fame nor happiness depended on it in the slightest, for the happiest people were the most ignorant, and fame was a matter of luck, to achieve which you only had to be clever. And I grew bored . . . Soon I was transferred to the Caucasus–this was the happiest time of my life. I hoped that boredom would not survive under Chechen bullets–but it’s no use. In a month I had become so accustomed to their whine and the breath of death that, to tell the truth, the mosquitoes bothered me more, and life became more boring than ever because I had now lost practically my last hope. When I saw Bela in my quarters, when I held her on my lap and first kissed her raven locks, I foolishly thought she was an angel sent down to me by a compassionate Providence . . . Again I was mistaken: the love of a savage girl is little better than that of a well-born lady. The ignorance and simplicity of the one are as boring as the coquetry of the other. I still love her, if you want to know. I am grateful to her for a few rather blissful moments. I am ready to die for her even, but I am really bored with her . . . I don’t know whether I am a fool or a scoundrel, but the fact is that I am to be pitied as much, if not more than she. My soul has been warped by the world, my mind is restless, my heart insatiable–nothing satisfies me. I grow accustomed to sorrow as readily as to joy, and my life becomes emptier from day to day. Only one thing is left for me, and that is to travel. As soon as possible I’ll set out–not for Europe, God forbid–but for America, Arabia, India–and maybe I’ll die somewhere on the road! Ar least I’m sure that with the help of storms and bad roads this consolation won’t soon cease to be a last resort.’ He talked long in this vein and his words seared themselves in my memory for it was the first time I had heard such talk from a man of twenty-five, and, I hope to God, the last.

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Bela later dies as a direct result of his irresponsibility.

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About Pechorin

A Hero of Our Time
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One Response to A Hero of Our Time, part 16: How Society Creates Its Pechorins

  1. Pingback: A Hero of Our Time: Introduction | Pechorin

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