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Dr. Zhivago | Study Guide

Boris Pasternak

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Dr. Zhivago | Quotes


Much as Filat tried to dissuade them, Lara and Amalia Karlovna considered these shots blanks.

Narrator, Book 1, Part 2

Lara and her mother hear gunshots in the distance as they make their way to the hotel. Their willingness to believe the gunshots aren't lethal shows that the 1905 revolution isn't real to them yet. To Lara, in particular, it seems like the shots are coming from the boys down the street, playing war games as always.


But sacrificing her future in favor of Pasha's, Lara held the candle as low as possible ... it always came out that her candle was higher than his.

Narrator, Book 1, Part 4

Lara is told to hold her candle high during the wedding ceremony so that she will always have the "upper hand" in her marriage to Pasha. She cares so little for herself that she tries to keep the candle low so Pasha can be the leader of the family. No matter how hard she tries to keep her candle lower than Pasha's, it seems like God has a different plan. Lara will always be the leader in her marriage to Pasha.


They were all there, all side by side, and some did not recognize each other, while others had never known each other.

Narrator, Book 1, Part 4

Fate has brought together Yuri, Misha, Lara, Yusup, and Yusup's father. They don't all recognize their connections, but God does.


The roof over the whole of Russia has been torn off, and we and all the people find ourselves under the open sky.

Yuri Zhivago, Book 1, Part 5

Yuri is initially excited by the prospect of a revolution and the many opportunities it presents for improvements both personal and political.


This was what the seekers of adventure were after ... coming to your dear ones, returning to yourself, the renewing of existence.

Narrator, Book 1, Part 5

On his way home to Moscow after serving in World War I, Yuri realizes the true reason why people like to travel. Coming home means a rediscovery of yourself and a new outlook on life.


I used to be in a very revolutionary mood, but now I think that we'll gain nothing by violence.

Yuri Zhivago, Book 2, Part 8

Yuri's conversation with Kostoed is the first time he verbalizes his concerns about the consequences of political upheaval.


I never turn back halfway, never abandon what I've started.

Lara Antipova, Book 2, Part 9

Lara says this when Yuri offers to help her with the water buckets in front of her house, but it also applies to her marriage to Pasha. Even though Lara loves Yuri in a different, more passionate way than she loves Pasha, she would always choose Pasha first because he is her husband.


It was against the rules to remain indifferent to it.

Narrator, Book 2, Part 11

Yuri defies Red Cross rules and engages in battle with the Whites, not because he supports the Bolsheviks and the Forest Brotherhood holding him captive, but because it is what is expected of him. He will stay alive only if he gives in and does what he finds morally reprehensible.


Let's believe they're safe.

Liberius Forester, Book 2, Part 12

Liberius's conscious decision not to worry about his and Yuri's families shows the difference between the two men's priorities. Liberius is dedicated to the Bolshevik cause while Yuri cares only about his family.


It's to blame for everything, all the subsequent misfortunes that keep overtaking our generation to this day.

Lara Antipova, Book 2, Part 13

Lara attributes everything, from the strain in her marriage to a country at war, to the loss of independent thought in Russia.


It's not for nothing that you stand at the end of my life ... just as ... at its beginning.

Yuri Zhivago, Book 2, Part 14

Yuri's words to Lara upon the realization that they don't have much longer to be together shows how their lives have come full circle thanks to the guiding hand of fate.


It's impossible, without its affecting your health, to show yourself day after day contrary to what you feel.

Yuri Zhivago, Book 2, Part 15

Yuri tells Nika and Misha that he has heart problems, but he also insists that withholding one's opinions and living by someone else's rules can damage a person's health, too. He believes the overall increase in cardiac illness can be attributed to an oppressive society.


The unfree man always idolizes his slavery.

Narrator, Book 2, Part 15

Nika and Misha's praise of communism reminds Yuri of slaves who support slavery. When you don't know there's a better way of life, you celebrate the meager hand you're dealt.


All that was metaphorical has become literal, and the children are children, and the terrors are terrifying.

Misha Gordon, Book 2, Part 16

Misha is referring to a poem by Russian poet Alexander Blok. Written at the beginning of World War I, it talks about "we, the children of Russia's terrible years." Misha is saying now there really are children, like Tanya, who have suffered through those years, and what they have seen is more terrifying than anyone could ever imagine.

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