“White Walls” Paper
Tatyana Tolstaya was born in May of 1951 in Leningrad, USSR. It is impossible to ignore the family heritage that her name evokes. She is the granddaughter of the Soviet writer Alexei Tolstoy, who wrote historical novels about Peter the Great and Ivan the Terrible in the 1930’s and 1940’s, and the great-grandniece of the even more famous author of Voyna i mir (1865-1869; War and Peace, 1886), Leo Tolstoy. She was born into a family of rich literary tradition. Her most famous short story, “White Walls” was written in 1999. This story is from Tatyana’s perspective from when she was a child. She describes what her life was like back then. She does this in such a way though, that it seems as if everything was too perfect. From what we know about the Soviet time period, it did not sound as nice as she makes it out to be in this story. She talks about how her and her sisters redecorated their home, and what life was like throughout the town which they lived in. They tore down a lot of old wallpaper and put up a new design. The story goes in chronological order and it is easy to see the differences in the time periods from what she is saying. Tolstaya is describing her every day adventures and how they related to the Soviet Union at the time. For everything that they would do there would be a little bit of history mixed in with it. Tolstaya is attempting to tell us that though the conditions in Russia were very rough for a long time, she was able to find the positives and build her life around them. There are many forms of symbolism throughout this entire story. The three symbols that I’m focusing on are the White Walls, Johnson + Johnson, and Mikhail Avgustovich Janson. She is not so subtly Houska 2
making a statement about the conditions in post Soviet Russia. When she starts talking about the post USSR, much of what she says has to do with rebuilding. They are trying to start over and build from the ground up. She clearly...
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