TOLSTOY - Jen Winston Masterpieces of the Russian Short...

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Jen Winston October 25, 2007 Masterpieces of the Russian Short Story 7374846349 Good vs. Evil in “After The Ball” and “God Sees The Truth…But Waits” Leo Tolstoy’s attention to detail makes his works entertaining, but it is his deeper messages that make them interesting. As he emphasizes good and evil motifs to convey a message about morality, Tolstoy also raises questions concerning the effect serendipitous occasions can have on our lives. His short stories “After The Ball” and “God Sees The Truth…But Waits” both juxtapose a moral conscience theme next to one that depicts the science of chance, leaving the reader to reflect on consequences, ethics, and religion. “God Sees The Truth…But Waits” is a frustrating tale about an honest man’s struggle with authority. The man, Ivan Aksionov, is forced to accept the consequences for a crime he did not commit. Before being falsely accused, Ivan is described as amiable, honest and light hearted. Tolstoy introduces him as, “full of fun and very fond of singing,” and it is clear he wouldn’t hurt a fly. His evil counterpart, Makar Semyonich, is later introduced as tall and strong, and his inappropriate laughter proves he is insolent and disrespectful in comparison to Aksionov. These two characters represent opposite ends of the moral spectrum. Aksionov ponders revenge but then decides it is not justified, and this refusal to take action makes him a moral saint. Semyonich, however, is the complete opposite: he threatens Aksionov not to tattle on him and he is a murderer. The adjacent
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contrast of completely different morals also appears in “After the Ball,” but in a different fashion. The comparison in this story is made with scenes rather than characters. The first and final scenes are polar opposites: the light mood in the ballroom represents the good view while the dark flogging in the conclusion is clearly a depiction of evil. Varinka’s father is two-faced and goes from a dancing, honest colonel to a corrupt, torturing dictator in under 12 hours. After witnessing the werewolf-like transformation and seeing
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TOLSTOY - Jen Winston Masterpieces of the Russian Short...

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