Scene 5: Father and Son

At Varvaraís. Stavrogin is dressing to go out Peter looking sullen, in near the table.

Stavrogin (to Peter): And if you speak to me again like that, you will feel my cane.

Peter: There was nothing insulting in my proposition. If you really think of marrying LisaÖ

Stavrogin: Öyou can free me from the only obstacle separating me from her. I know it, but donít say it again. Iíd rather not have to use my cane on you.

(He goes out. Stepan enters.)

Stepan: I am leaving, just to get the last of my things, and I am going to leave without hope of returning and without recriminations.

Peter: Oh, youíll come back! A parasite is always a parasite.

Stepan: I donít like the way you talk to me.

Peter: You have always said that truth was paramount. The truth is that you pretended to be in love with Varvara and that se pretended not to see that you were in love with her. As a reward for such silliness, she was keeping you. Hence you are a parasite. I advised her yesterday to put you in a suitable home.

Stepan: You spoke to her about me?

Peter: Yes. She told me that tomorrow she would have a conversation with you to settle everything. The truth is that she wants to see you squirm once more. She showed me your letters. How I laughed-good Lord, how I laughed!

Stepan: You laughed. Have you now heart? Do you know what a father is?

Peter: You taught me what a father is. You never provided for me. I wasnít weaned yet when you shipped me off to Berlin by the post. Like a parcel.

Stepan: Wretch! Although I sent you by the post, my heart continued to bleed!

Peter: Mere words!

Stepan: Are you or arenít you my son, monster?

Peter: You must know better than I. To be sure, fathers are inclined to have illusions about such things.

Stepan: Shut up!

Peter: I will not. And donít whimper. You are a patriotic, sniveling, whimpering old woman. Besides, all country whimpers. Fortunately, we are going to change all that.

Stepan: Who is ďweĒ?

Peter: Why, we normal men. We are going to remake the world. We are the saviors.

Stepan: Is it possible that anyone like you aims to offer himself up to men in the place of Christ? But just look at yourself!

Peter: Donít shout. We shall destroy everything. Weíll not leave a stone standing, and then weíll begin all over again. Then there will be true equality. You preached equality, didnít you? Well, you shall have it! And I bet that you wonít recognize it.

Stepan: I shall not recognize it if it looks like you. No, it was not of such things that we used to dream! I donít understand anything any more. I have given up understanding.

Peter: All that comes from your sick old nerves. You made speeches. We act. What are you complaining about, scatterbrained old man?

Stepan: How can you be son insensitive?

Peter: I followed your teachings. According to you, the thing to do was to treat injustice harshly and to be sure of oneís rights, to go ever forward toward the future! Well, thatís where weíre going, and we shall strike hard. A tooth for a tooth, as in the Gospels!

Stepan: You poor fellow, itís not in the Gospels!

Peter: The devil take it! I have never read that confounded book. Nor any other book. Whatís the use? What matters is progress.

Stepan: No, youíre crazy! Shakespeare and Hugo donít stand in the way of progress. Quite the contrary, I assure you!

Peter: Donít get excited! Hugo is an old pair of buttocks. As for Shakespeare, our peasants working in the fields donít need him. They need shoes instead. They will be given them as soon as everything is destroyed.

Stepan: And when will this be?

Peter: In May. In June everyone will be making shoes. Rejoice, ancestor, for your ideas are going to be put into practice.

Stepan: They are not my ideas. You want to destroy everything; you donít want to leave a single stone standing. But I wanted people to love one another.

Peter: No need for love! Science will take its place.

Stepan: But that will be boring.

Peter: Why should it be boring? Thatís an aristocratic idea. When men are equal, they are not bored. They donít have a good time either. Nothing matters and everything is on the same plane. When we have justice plus science, then both love and boredom will be done away with. People will forget.

Stepan: No man will ever be willing to forget his love.

Peter: Again youíre indulging in words. Just remember, ancestor, that you forgot; you got married three times.

Stepan: Twice. And after a long interval.

Peter: Long or short, people forget. Consequently, the sooner they forget, the better. Oh, but you get on my nerves, never knowing what you want! I know what I want. Half the heads will have to be cut off. Those that remain will be taught to drink.

Stepan. It is easier to cut off heads than to have ideas.

Peter: What ideas? Ideas are nonsense. Nonsense has to be suppressed to achieve justice. Nonsense was good enough for oldsters like you. A man has to choose. If you believe in God, you are forced to say nonsense. If you donít believe in him and yet refuse to admit that everything must be razed, you will still talk nonsense. Youíre all in the same boat, and consequently you canít keep yourselves from talking nonsense. I say that men must act. Iíll destroy everything and others will construct. No more reform and no more improvement. The more things are improved and reformed, the worse it is. The sooner people begin to destroy, the better it is. Letís begin by destroying. What happens afterward doesnít concern us. The rest is nonsense, nonsense!

Stepan (rushing out of the room): Heís mad, heís madÖ

(Peter laughs uproariously.)