In what scenes did Pnin refuse to be the victim of the alien? How did Pnin overcome obstacles?

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allie-draper eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pnin confronts the alien with remarkable courage; although he doesn't come away well from hardly any of his encounters in the US, he remains hopeful and optimistic in the face of loss and disaster. He is undaunted by the mockery of cruel colleagues who see him as a buffoon and a source of amusement, focusing with single-minded intensity on his own work. He soldiers on despite the outdated time schedule that lands him on the wrong train, and instead uses the opportunity to explore his memories which, although not entirely positive, leave him with the distinct impression that he has friends from the past in his audience. His misadventures with trains, buses, and washing machines find him perplexed but rarely despairing.

His relentless optimism follows him in everything he does, and he wields it both consciously and unconsciously; he ignores (never really hears?) the news that he might be forced to give up his room, and loses himself in memories of the Russia of his childhood after watching Soviet propaganda. More deliberately, he once again welcomes the return of his truly terrible and utterly untrustworthy wife—an example of the unfailing optimism that almost unfailingly leads to pain. He embraces pain, though, seemingly as the price to be paid for contact with the alien, as when he leaves Waindell College not with an air of defeat, but rather with excitement and curiosity about the now-wide open future “where there was simply no saying what miracle might happen.”

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