Analyze the significance of Tolstoy’s reflection on “Tartar thistle” in terms of the conflict of the Caucasus depicted in his book Hadji Murat.

  • Consider the significance of the thistle in Vambery’s Sketches, p. 340–341.
  • Compare and contrast Tolstoy’s depictions of Hadji Murat, Shamil, and Tsar Nikolas I.
  • Discuss Hadji Murat as a “man of action” and transgressor of traditional social and cultural norms and values.

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In Tolstoy's parable that frames the story of Hadji Murat, the thistle symbolizes the indigenous people of the Caucasus. It persists through the attempts to stamp it out.

Tolstoy, though he had served in the Russian army and was a member of the Russian ruling class, became increasingly opposed throughout his life to the imperialist ventures his country undertook. Even in the early story "The Cossacks," he sees virtues in both the Caucasus peoples (variously known to the Russians as Tartars, Chechens, Avars, and Circassians) and the Cossacks which the Russians lack, though the Cossacks are allied with the Russians. In Hadji Murat , the focal point of all that is negative about Russia is the tsar himself, the arrogant, hypocritical Nicholas I. The simple courage and devotion to family and people of Murat are...

(The entire section contains 424 words.)

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