Part Two, Chapter One, Sections 1-3
by Dennis Abrams
“Night” What’s happened during the eight days since the “events” at Varvara Petrovna’s? The town is abuzz with rumors. Lebyadkin and his sister disappeared the next day. Shatov has locked himself in his apartment, stopped his lessons in town, and is not receiving anybody. Stepan and the narrator decide to blame Pyotr for spreading the news of the events at Varvara’s. Liputin knows everything. It is because of the interest of society ladies in seeing “the mysterious lame girl,” that the Lebyadkins had been hidden away. Rumors abound: Was Lizaveta suffering from brain fever? Was Stavrogin? Had he lost a tooth because of the slap/punch? “In some corners it was even said that there would perhaps be a murder, that Stavrogin was not a man to bear with such an offense, and that he would kill Shatov, but secretly, as in a Corsican vendetta.” The ancient hostility of society towards Nikolai Vsevolodovich was markedly evident. Had he ruined Lizaveta’s honor in Switzerland? Was he back home serving in some secret capacity? The governor’s wife, Yulia Mikhailovna had paid a visit to Varvara, but is turned away because “the mistress was ill and not receiving.” Yulia’s defense of Varvara. It is revealed that Yulia knows everything that went on that day. Her growing influence, her patronage of Pyotr Stepanovich, which “partly explained [his] rather rapid success in our society.” Artemy Pavlovich Gaganov. Pyotr’s dinners with the governor’s wife. “Still, the fact remained that the former revolutionary appeared in his beloved fatherland not only without any trouble, but almost with inducements.” Had he received absolution? His letters of recommendation from Petersburg. His friendship with Karmazinov who “trembled morbidly before the newest revolutionary men, and, imaginging in his ignorance of the matter that the keys to the Russian future were in their hands, sucked up to them humiliatingly, the more so since they paid no attention to him.” Pyotr Stepanovich visits his father. The sale of the estate is handled by Varvara. Stepan in seclusion. His desire to wage one last battle. Comparison to Fathers and Sons. “For pity’s sake, I cry to him, but do you really want to offer yourself to people, just as you are, in place of Christ?” Was Sunday set up? Stepan opines on Russian laziness, “Oh, Russians should be exterminated for the good of mankind, like harmful parasites!” Stepan concludes, “Cher…do you know that this will most certainly end with something?…in this world things usually end with nothing, but here there will be an end, most certainly, most certainly! Lizaveta is engaged to Mavriky Nikolaevich. Liputin has taken the Lebyadkins to live in the potters quarter across the river. (Section Three — the narration now picks up the “new story” after recounting the previous eight days) Nikolai Vsevolodovich alone in his study. The effects of the slap/punch: a swollen cheek, a loosened tooth that was now firm again, an abscess, a cut lower lip. No visitors for the eight days. Finally, he allows Varvara to bring Pyotr Stepanovich into the study. The hidden letter. Should things be put straight? Pyotr’s adopted role, “neither stupid nor smart, rather giftless, and dropped from the moon, as sensible people say here…since this gift of giftlessness is natural to me why shouldn’t I use it artificially?” Why would anybody suspect him of mysterious designs? “No, they’ll forgive me everything for this alone, that the wise man who published tracts there has turned out here to be stupider than they are…” A promise not to talk about anything “ticklish” with Stavrogin that day. The patching and shuffling and clowning of their “show” at Varvara’s. According to Pyotr, “…everything’s changed now, finished, passed, overgrown with sand. I’ve suddenly changed my thinking about you…” “There aren’t any tactics. Now it’s entirely your will in everything — I mean, say yes if you want, or no if you want.” Pyotr’s change of mind about Stavrogin is a result of the moment he took his hands back from Shatov. Stavrogin begs for no more notes. Pyotr encourages him to “go and see our people…” Liputin won’t dare tell. Stavrogin tells Pyotr that he has told his mother he will propose to Lizaveta in five days, despite the fact that she’s engaged to Mavriky, “She’ll come running from the foot of the alter, you only have to call.” Pyotr finds it impossible to anger Stavrogin. Because he is such a “mysterious and romantic figure,” Stavrogin is in an extremely advantageous position. Is he a spy? Concern about Gaganov. Castrates in the district. Shatov insists that a rebellion in Russia must begin with atheism. The Shpigulin’s factory — a hotbed of cholera. Workers aware of the Internationale. The box has arrived from Petersburg. Playing the gallant. Pyotr insists that “it would be better not to be personal for a while…” Fedka the Convict, a fugitive from Siberia, Stepan’s former serf, has returned to town and has been spoken to, he’s “A man ready for anything, anything — for money naturally…” “Shatov…had no right to risk his life on Sunday when he went up to you, right? I wish you to make note of that.”
Things are definitely afoot, at least given what was said (and left unsaid) in the conversation between Petrusha and Stavrogin.
Part Two, Chapter One, Sections 4-5