A Hero of Our Time

A Hero of Our Time Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Strong parallels exist between Kazbich and Pechorin. Please agree or disagree, and provide evidence to support your stance.

    If you agree with the statement, you might mention that both Kazbich and Pechorin have a disregard for human life. Kazbich harms the old chief and Bela without a second thought. Pechorin manipulates and then kills Grushnitsky. They both have a penchant for escaping death, despite bringing it to those around them. If you disagree, you might mention that whereas Kazbich's immediate instinct is to take matters into his own hands, Pechorin keeps his hands clean for as long as he can, and instead has others do his biddings. It is Azamat that steals Bela. It is Princess Mary who torments Grushnitsky.

  2. 2

    Why is so little information given about the first narrator?

    In the preface, Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov, the author of the novel, tries to discredit claims that the novel is merely his autobiography. Lermontov states that his novel's main character, Pechorin, represents a generation rather than an individual. Since the first narrator is a young man like Pechorin, it stands to reason that his experiences will most likely resemble Pechorin's given the author's notion that Pechorin represents a whole generation. Therefore, the author gives the first narrator no real background, simply because Pechorin is already reflecting and foreshadowing the trajectory of the first narrator's life.

  3. 3

    What roles do setting play in the novel?

    The novel has many settings, and its settings give its stories fairytale elements. The fort, the small hut by the sea, and Pechorin's lodgings in Pyatigorsk (clouds touching his roof and flowers spilling in from outside) all read like settings found in fairytales. The novel can be characterized as a small collection of fairytales. Also with so many settings, there is a restless tone to the novel. The hero or, in this case, the anti-hero is constantly searching for new adventures.

  4. 4

    Pechorin is the culprit behind Bela's death. Please agree or disagree, and provide evidence to support your stance.

    If you agree, you might say that Pechorin is the one that sets off the chain of events that lead to Bela's death. He is the one that urges Azamat to go through with the plan to steal Karagyoz. Also, there is some suspicious activities around Bela's death. Pechorin urges Maxim Maximych to accompany him on a hunt and leaves Bela alone in their abode. This would seem like nothing if an attack from Kazbich had not taken place a few days prior and if Kazbich had not showed intentions of attacking again. If you disagree with the statement, you might explore Pechorin's love for Bela and talk about the nature of that love.

  5. 5

    Compare Pechorin's relationship with Maxim Maximych to his relationship with Werner.

    Both Maxim Maximych and Werner suffer from Pechorin's inability to create lasting connecions with people. Pechorin even goes as far as saying that he is "incapable of friendship" (79). Both Maxim Maximych and Werner find themselves participants in Pechorin's schemes. Yet, Maxim Maximych's involvements in Pechorin's activities appear more passive than Werner's. This might be due to the fact that Maxim Maximych as the novel's second narrator downplays his role in Pechorin's misdeeds.

  6. 6

    What role does gender play in this novel?

    Gender plays many important roles in this novel. Pechorin benefits from the absence of father figures in the novel. The remaining male characters are exploited, corrupted, and effeminized by Pechorin. Without the presence of formidable males, Pechorin is able to easily manipulate, seduce, and ruin the young women in the novel. This ties in to the vampiric theme of the novel.

  7. 7

    The novel has three narrators. Who is the least trustworthy?

    Maxim Maximych is the novel's least trustworthy narrator. In his account of the events that lead to Bela's death, he shies away from taking responsibilities for his part in Pechorin's schemes. Pechorin is, on the other hand, a very trustworthy narrator. This is no surprise since the information he reveals is meant for his diary and not for public consumption. He is operating in a different storytelling format than Maxim Maximych.

  8. 8

    Does Pechorin have redeemable qualities?

    If you answer yes, you might talk about his frankness with himself and even sometimes with others. You could argue that he goes against his villainous nature many times by giving Grushnitsky warnings. If you answer no, the whole novel is your playing field. His actions create chaos and sufferings, yet he shows no remorse.

  9. 9

    Who is Pechorin's strongest adversary?

    A possible answer is the young woman he encounters in Taman. He is not able to read her, and she seduces him rather than the other way around. She also gets the closest to killing Pechorin.

  10. 10

    What roles do the natives play in this novel?

    The Caucasus' natives help the novel hold a mirror to Russian society. Pechorin is sometimes more violent than the natives he chastises. The Cossack who kills Vulick does so under a drunken stupor, and he is filled with remorse once the alcohol leaves him. Pechorin, on the other hand, kills Grushnitsky and contributes to Bela and the old chief's deaths without the influences of substances. Furthermore, he shows no remorse for his schemes.