Part Two: III "The Fatalist"

Pechorin describes how once, while he was spending a couple of weeks stationed with an infantry regiment in a Caucasian Cossack village he had a night playing cards at one of the officers' houses. Long into the night the conversation turns to predestination. Lieutenant Vulich, an inveterate gambler, comes up with the idea of making a wager with Pechorin, whose claim is that "there is no such thing as predestination." He takes a pistol from the wall and primes it. Pechorin, believing that one can see in a man's face when his time has come, says to him: "You're going to die today", but when Vulich puts the gun to his head and pulls the trigger nothing happens. He then fires it again at a cap and it goes off. Pechorin then says that he now believes in predestination.

As Pechorin is walking home later and the others have dispersed, he finds a pig sliced in half on the road, which he finds out has been cut up by a drunken Cossack. He returns to his lodging, but is woken at four to be told that the same drunken Cossack had killed Vulich in the street at random, almost slicing him in half, thus fulfilling Pechorin's unwitting prophecy. Pechorin goes with the officers who have woken him to the hut where the Cossack has shut himself up. Pechorin decides to test his fate, and catching the Cossack unawares, throws himself on him through a window of the hut and soon, with the help of more Cossacks, overpowers him.

The novel ends with Pechorin describing how on the way back from the village to the fort he asked Maxim Maximych what he thinks of predestination, but can get little more out of him than: "Bad luck on that poor chap, though. He should have known better than talk to drunks after dark. Still, I suppose that's how he was meant to die…" and Pechorin concludes with: "…he's not at all keen on metaphysical discussions."

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.