Suicide is a theme of Doctor Zhivago. Please discuss it.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have a tough time buying the idea that suicide is a theme of Pasternak's work.  So much of it is devoted to love, beauty, and the pursuit of both that it seems that these forces are more of creation than the negation of suicide.  As bad as life becomes for Zhivago, little is there to indicate that suicide becomes the dominant form of being.  He loves Tonya and Lara.  He loves Russia.  He loves his poetry.  Zhivago does not see suicide as the answer for there is so much in the world to love.  It is for this reason that Zhivago's poems and his life end up becoming a testament to love and the powerful redemption that can be found within it.  Suicide does not seems to be the manner in which Yuri functions.  Even in the most despairing of times, Yuri is able to find some level of consciousness where redemption is present. In this, I don't see suicide as a way out for him.  I don't see it as a theme of the novel.  It would belie the very nature of Zhivago as one who would sacrifice everything for his love.  In this, I think that Zhivago's life is one that resoundingly calls for a passion and zeal for life, something that goes against the nature of suicide.

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Doctor Zhivago

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