In chapters 3 and 4 of Family Happiness , the teenage Masha undergoes a serious transformation as she nears her birthday and the Feast of the Assumption, which both occur in August. She decides to fast and attend church more often. Fasting soon expands into abstaining from all sin and...
In chapters 3 and 4 of Family Happiness, the teenage Masha undergoes a serious transformation as she nears her birthday and the Feast of the Assumption, which both occur in August. She decides to fast and attend church more often. Fasting soon expands into abstaining from all sin and reflecting on the positive effects of her abstention. Masha sincerely feels that she has become a better person and hopes for spiritual enlightenment. The main reason for these changes, however, is the love she feels for Sergey Mikhaylych, an older friend to whom she has developed a romantic attachment. Convinced that he loves her too, she thinks of their future marriage.
At the end of chapter 3, Masha realizes there has been a change in her affection for Sergey and that he feels the same way. This conviction is actually strengthened by the fact that he refuses to admit it. This realization comes soon before her birthday. She decides that on that day, she will take communion and become engaged to Sergey.
In chapter 4, in anticipation of these events, she dives into efforts to improve herself morally and spiritually through fasting—which is appropriate before this feast—and increasing her attendance at church. She feels completely transformed by her great love, but she has difficulty disentangling her personal emotions from spiritual attachments. Masha enjoys feeling that she has become a better person since leaving childhood behind, and she even wishes that she had sinned more in the past, so she could repent more in the present.
Although she tries to be devout, she cannot help but feel pride in her activities. One example is her anonymously giving money to a poor family, then feeling regret that she did not allow recognition of her generosity. She waffles between having genuinely good feelings and experiencing desire for others—especially Sergey—to admire her behavior.
Sergey Mikhaylych would come into my mind, and I thought for long about him. I could not help it, and I did not consider these thoughts sinful. But my thoughts of him were quite different from what they had been on the night when I first realized that I loved him … I felt myself his equal and could understand him thoroughly from the moral elevation I had reached.