ARLT paper 2

ARLT paper 2 - 1 Gillian Antell ARLT 100 Zholkovsky...

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Gillian Antell ARLT 100 Zholkovsky 10/29/07 The Moral and Spiritual Corruption of Society and the Power of Forgiveness Leo Tolstoy is considered one of the greatest writers of all time. He wrote his stories “for the people,” and detested the way that many former writers had used their work to try to appeal only to the educated elite, without their messages reaching the peasant masses. Towards the end of his life, Tolstoy became very religious, and renounced many material aspects of his former life in order to live, according to him, a more pure and Christian life. He also became a great advocate for non-violent resistance and passivism, and maintained a regular correspondence with Mahatma Ghandi. The strong influence of his passivism and Christian faith, as well as his aversion for social conventions, is found in many of his later works, including the short stories “God Sees the Truth…But Waits” (1872) and “After the Ball” (1903). In addition, these stories both deal with innocent men being wrongfully punished. Although the narrators of the stories are at different points in their respective spiritual journeys towards Christian purity, both stories contain messages espousing the Christian values of love, mercy, and forgiveness while subtly mocking the rigid rules and conventions of society. While “God Sees the Truth…But Waits” primarily has a religious theme with the social commentary playing a secondary role, the religious aspects of “After the Ball” aren’t quite as blatant and the attack on social conventions is more apparent. Even in the titles, one can see that the former mentions God and his actions, while the second involves a social event and what follows. However, these stories both contain two of Tolstoy’s favorite themes: Christian morals and values and the flaws in society. In “After 1
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the Ball,” the narrator makes very clear at the beginning of the story that the events that he is about to relay mark a definitive shift in his life from that point onward, “From that one night, or rather that one morning onwards my whole life changed,” (p.239). He then goes on to explain how, at a ball one night, he meets a woman named Varenka, who becomes the object of his affection. By the end of the night, the narrator is so overwhelmed with love that he projects this feeling onto the world around him, even onto his former romantic rival, “At that moment I embraced the whole world with my love… even Anisimov, the engineer, who was sulking because of me” (p.245). This is the kind of Christian love, unbiased and universal, that Tolstoy sought in his own life, and which
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ARLT paper 2 - 1 Gillian Antell ARLT 100 Zholkovsky...

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