Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Left Out

I'm heading in to the last lap of War and Peace, in which we see how things turned out for everyone. One person for whom things do not turn out terribly well is Sonia, seen through the lens of her cousins' guilt here:
From the time of his marriage Sonya had lived in his house. Before that, Nicholas had told his wife all that had passed between himself and Sonya, blaming himself and commending her. He had asked Princess Mary to be gentle and kind to his cousin. She thoroughly realized the wrong he had done Sonya, felt herself to blame toward her, and imagined that her wealth had influenced Nicholas' choice. She could not find fault with Sonya in any way and tried to be fond of her, but often felt ill-will toward her which she could not overcome.

Once she had a talk with her friend Natasha about Sonya and about her own injustice toward her.

"You know," said Natasha, "you have read the Gospels a great deal—there is a passage in them that just fits Sonya."

"What?" asked Countess Mary, surprised.

"'To him that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not shall be taken away.' You remember? She is one that hath not; why, I don't know. Perhaps she lacks egotism, I don't know, but from her is taken away, and everything has been taken away. Sometimes I am dreadfully sorry for her. Formerly I very much wanted Nicholas to marry her, but I always had a sort of presentiment that it would not come off. She is a sterile flower, you know—like some strawberry blossoms. Sometimes I am sorry for her, and sometimes I think she doesn't feel it as you or I would."

Though Countess Mary told Natasha that those words in the Gospel must be understood differently, yet looking at Sonya she agreed with Natasha's explanation. It really seemed that Sonya did not feel her position trying, and had grown quite reconciled to her lot as a sterile flower. She seemed to be fond not so much of individuals as of the family as a whole. Like a cat, she had attached herself not to the people but to the home. She waited on the old countess, petted and spoiled the children, was always ready to render the small services for which she had a gift, and all this was unconsciously accepted from her with insufficient gratitude.
What seems particularly sad here is that Sonia is so left out, by circumstances not her fault, that this is all she gets -- a few paragraphs near the end. There's a whole life sketched briefly here. And yet, it wouldn't be correct to say that a whole other novel could be written about Sonia, who is here written off so briefly by her relatives, because part of the injustice is that Sonia has been denied a story. She wouldn't be an interesting main character, because circumstances (having been the poor cousin that Nikolai fell in love with young, yet could not think of because it was only possible for him to marry someone with money) have given her a life in which not much happens. Condemned by circumstance to be a side character.

1 comment:

cliff said...

The wife & I recently watched the movie which inspired me to check out the book. I'm up to book 2 is all right now. What surprised me (after seeing Audrey Hepburn in the movie) is that Natasha is a mere 12 years old at the beginning of the book.