The Caucasian Chalk Circle

What does lavrenti mean when he says "you don't need a man in bed-you need a man on paper?"

act 3

in the northern mountains

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Lavrenti explains to Grusha that if she marries a dying old man from the other side of the mountain, Michael is made a "legitimate". She need not sleep with a man for people to think of Michael having a father: it is enough that it is on paper.