Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Law court

Law court. Government court in which the prostitute Katusha is tried and sentenced for murder. When Prince Nekhludoff, acting as an officer of the court, first sees Katusha, he does not recognize her, since she is using the name Lyubov (which in Russian literally means “love”). When the judge demands to know her baptismal name, her patronymic, and her surname, Nekhludoff is horrified to realize that this is the same peasant girl he seduced and then abandoned many years earlier.

While many authors use the courtroom setting as a symbol of justice, Tolstoy makes it a seat of the miscarriage of justice. Katusha is found guilty of the murder of the merchant and sentenced to hard labor in Siberia, although she believed the poison she used on the merchant was in fact a harmless sleep drug. Nekhludoff is stricken with guilt at the knowledge that his seduction and abandonment of her has led to this.


Prison. Institution in which Katusha is detained while awaiting transportation to a Siberian penal camp. Here she meets a large number of other women sentenced for various crimes. Many of these people are not guilty of the crimes for which they are charged, and many of the others have committed crimes that should not be considered crimes at all.


*Moscow. Russia’s largest city, in which Katusha is tried and convicted for murder. Tolstoy pays little attention...

(The entire section is 571 words.)