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Dr. Zhivago | Book 2, Part 10 : On the High Road | Summary

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Summary

Olga Galuzina, a shopkeeper's wife in Krestovozdviznensk, along the Siberian highway, worries about her son, Terenty, who has been kicked out of high school and conscripted into the White Army. Her husband, Vlas, also with the White Army, makes speeches to its new recruits.

Meanwhile Pavel Antipov (Pasha's father), Tiverzin, and Vdovichenko, an anarchist, conduct a secret Bolshevik meeting in the Galuzins' courtyard. The speaker is Kostoed-Amursky, who has since repented to the Communist Party and is now traveling around Siberia to impart military instructions from the Central Committee. Liberius, who considers all of this planning "dilettantish nonsense," continuously interrupts the speech. Although Liberius's attitude irritates Tiverzin, he also questions the Central Committee's decisions. It wants to use former frontline troops to lead the rebellion. Tiverzin thinks it is a bad idea, for the revolutionaries of 1905 "are not used to trusting army men."

A few days later an Easter banquet is held for the new White Army recruits. During his father's speech, Terenty asks his friend Gushka the meaning of the word saboteur. A grenade explodes down the street, and men run every which way. Terenty ends up in the crawl space underneath a grocery store with at least a dozen other men, most of them extremely drunk from the day's festivities. The melee started when Sanka, a new recruit, didn't want to undress for his medical examination. He overturned a clerk's desk and jumped out the window, calling for others to follow him. Koska Nekhvalenykh, who is in the crawl space with Terenty, says he doesn't think anyone on their side threw the grenade—it must have been someone else.

Terenty and Koska hear Colonel Strese patrolling the streets, looking for the perpetrators. The colonel incorrectly tells his men that Terenty, Koska, Gushka, and Sanka are the political exiles who have been meeting in Krestovozdvizhensk and are wanted "dead or alive." Koska whispers to Terenty that they should go into the forest until the Whites "get reasonable."

Analysis

Antipov and Tiverzin were exiled from Moscow for their involvement in the railroad strike of 1905, representing the most radical and left wing of the Socialist Revolutionaries who broke away from the party between 1905 and 1917. The men who led the 1905 revolt are characterized as being much colder and more unforgiving than their modern counterparts; later in the story, the elder Antipov advocates for both his son's and daughter-in-law's deaths. At the secret meeting in Krestovozdviznensk, Pasternak describes them as "stern idols in whom political arrogance had exterminated everything alive and human."

Not all the new recruits have the same verve and vigor as their elder counterparts, particularly those in the White Army. Terenty, for example, doesn't know exactly what he's fighting for, nor does he even understand the vocabulary of socialism. His question about the word saboteur not only shows how ill informed he is, it also foreshadows his narrative arc in the story. When he and his friends are suspected of sabotage, they decide it would be better to hide in the forest rather than try to plead their case with their own people. They are, in a word cowardly. Unlike the men who have already endured one revolution, their only allegiance is to themselves.

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