Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dostoevsky’s Marmeladov

“Well, so be it.  I am a pig, but she is a lady!  I have the semblance of a beast…a  scoundrel, but she is a woman of a noble heart.”  -Marmeladov, in Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment

It was a rough exam week.  Tests 8 to 5.  Just walking around the back of the classroom proctoring and monitoring all day felt exhausting, like I was being strangled by some unseen force or pressure surrounding me.
“It’s all in vain and it’s no use talking!  No use talking!  For more than once, my wish did come true and more than once she has felt for me… such is my fate and I am a beast by nature!”  -Marmeladov, in Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment

The students needeed a break...we all need a break.  With no spring vacation in sight, there's nothing to do but lose it in class once in a while.  (Yes, those are three boys humping sandwich style in the back of class.)  So be it!
“I drink so that I may suffer twice as much!”  -Marmeladov, in Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment

Days like these get me thinking about Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.  Raskolnikov deep in debt and shrouded in secrets that make his mind a prison.  Sometimes I feel students here live in a prison and have no one to speak to them about it.
“The medal… well, the medal of course was sold- long ago, hmm… but  the certificate of merit is in her trunk still…”  -Marmeladov, in Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment

They know but don’t learn… pack in memories but can’t recall when needed… find nothing useful or curious are not appreciative or thoughtful… Raskolnikov is like this, until he meets Marmeladov, the drunk…the “don’t let this happen to you” character.  Through Marmeladov we seen Raskolnikov's tenderness.  Through this wretch, he meets Sonia who will eventually redeem him.
“What we live upon and what we pay our rent with, I could not say.  There are a lot of people living there besides ourselves.  Dirt and disorder, a perfect Bedlam.”  -Marmeladov, in Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment

Marmeladov is such a depraved lost soul, using every cent of his wife and family’s income to lose himself in suffering and forced purgatory.  Even forcing his own daughter into prostitution to support his vices… and they give him freely… out of love and dread and intense helplessness.  Just like my students give their parents everything they have... the very essence of their childhood, to make them happy.
“She did not utter a word, she did not even look… she simply picked up her big green shawl, put it over her head and lay down on the bed with her face to the wall; only her little shoulders and her body kept shuddering…”  -Marmeladov, in Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment

I don't know what it takes to impress a parent here.  What is needed for parents to not drive their children toward some future unhappy madness.  I only know that I'm a pressure valve.  A counterbalance.  So laugh away children.  Laugh and find joy here in this place.  There's redemption for both of us in that.

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