Course Hero. "Dr. Zhivago Study Guide." Course Hero. 27 Oct. 2016. Web. 1 June 2023. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Dr-Zhivago/>.
Course Hero. (2016, October 27). Dr. Zhivago Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 1, 2023, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Dr-Zhivago/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "Dr. Zhivago Study Guide." October 27, 2016. Accessed June 1, 2023. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Dr-Zhivago/.
Course Hero, "Dr. Zhivago Study Guide," October 27, 2016, accessed June 1, 2023, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Dr-Zhivago/.
It's the summer of 1943. Misha and Nika are both serving in World War II, Misha as a second lieutenant and Nika as a major. On the way back to their unit from separate trips, they spend the night in a little town called Chern. Misha can't sleep, so they go to the river and talk while Misha washes his clothes. Among other things, they discuss Nika's late fianceé, Christina Orlestova, who was hanged when the Germans caught her bombing a stable in their camp. Major General Evgraf Zhivago is in town to learn more about her.
A few weeks later, Misha and Nika are in Karachevo, waiting for a supply truck with a small group of people, including Tanya, a linen girl who does a regiment's laundry. The naturally friendly Tanya tells them all about her visit with Major General Zhivago the day before. He had asked her about Christina, but soon started asking Tanya questions about herself. He promised to speak with her again when he had more time. She thought he joked when he told her she just might be promoted to a general's niece.
Misha asks what she told the general. Her story is brutal and begins with her being given to a family for safekeeping because her non-biological father, a Russian minister hiding in Mongolia, didn't like children. Her mother, Raissa Komarova, most likely intended to send her away for a short period of time, but was tricked into it being forever. "My mama couldn't have given away her own child like that," Tanya states. There is no doubt in Misha's and Nika's minds that she is Yuri and Lara's daughter. They are glad Evgraf will take care of her.
The final scene takes place five to ten years later. Misha and Nika pore over a book of Yuri's writings as Moscow, "the main heroine of a long story," visible through a window, spreads into the distance. Both men feel the arrival of "the freedom of the soul," beckoning them into a future where a "happy, tender sense of peace" envelopes the world like a warm blanket.
Tanya is most certainly the child of Yuri and Lara. Lara knew she was pregnant before she and Yuri went to Varykino, but Yuri refused to believe it. Her name "Tanya" is so close to "Tonya" that Lara must have purposefully named her in honor of Yuri's wife, whom she admired. This is the child Lara is trying to find when she happens upon Yuri's funeral; the girl would have been seven or eight years old at the time.
Tanya's presence in Doctor Zhivago represents a few different things. The first is to show the lasting product of Lara and Yuri's relationship. Though their time together was short, Tanya serves as a reminder of the almost impenetrable bond they shared. Even though they can no longer be together, their relationship lives on in their child.
The second reason Pasternak includes this character is to show the effects of war on the next generation. Like many children born around the revolution and civil war, Tanya is an orphan twice over, losing first her mother, then her adoptive family. Though she sees inexplicable horrors at an early age, she is resilient, maintaining a positive outlook on what could be construed as a terrible life. She is not bitter about the twists her life has taken. This is Pasternak's way of saying there is still hope for the future.
Misha and Nika feel this hope as they read through Yuri's old poems. Pasternak's final paragraphs turn this tragic tale of love and loss into what he meant it to be all along—a love letter to his homeland. "The brightening and liberation they had expected after the war did not come with victory," but the next few decades saw a lightening of the atmosphere, a "freedom of the soul." Russia waned in Pasternak's eyes during the political upheaval, but he always had hope that its beauty and magnificence would shine again.