Systemic grammar analysis of leo tolstoy's god sees the truth but waits


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Systemic grammar analysis of leo tolstoy's god sees the truth but waits

  1. 1. Page |1Name: Manuel, Jesullyna C. Date: October 17, 2009Subject: Introduction to Stylistics OP # 4 APPLICATION OF SYSTEMIC GRAMMAR IN THE ANALYSIS OF LEO TOLSTOY’S SHORT STORY GOD SEES THE TRUTH, BUT WAITS In this paper, I will attempt to analyze Leo Tolstoy’s short story God Sees theTruth, But Waits using the rules of systemic grammar. The story is about a merchantnamed Ivan Dmitritch Aksionov. Aksionov, a happy and successful merchant, leaveshome on a business trip. On the night of his first day on the road he shares a hotel roomwith a stranger, a fellow merchant. During the night a thief enters the room and robs andmurders Aksionovs companion. Unaware of this, Aksionov departs early in the morning,and, on the second day of his journey, he is overtaken by the police and charged withmurder. Although innocent, he is tried and convicted. He spends twenty-six years athard labor in Siberia. A new convict, Makar Semenov, then arrives at the prison, andAksionov learns that it was this hardened criminal who had committed the crime forwhich he himself had been imprisoned. One night Aksionov observes Makar digging a Application of Systemic Grammar to Leo Tolstoy’s short story God Sees the Truth, but Waits
  2. 2. Page |2tunnel. The prison authorities discover the tunnel before it is completed. The prisonersare assembled for interrogation, and the warden questions Aksionov in particular.Though he has good reason to hate Makar, Aksionov refuses to report him. Makar is somoved by Aksionovs protection of him that he comes to him at night to seek hisforgiveness. On the next day Makar confesses to the authorities that he was the realmurderer. Aksionov is granted a full pardon, but by the time it arrives he has died. The story relates the life story of a single individual. It is highly selective inthe events presented, and the structure of their arrangements is tightly controlled.There are substantial accounts of only two brief periods in Aksionov’s life. The first halfof the story is devoted to the events surrounding the murder of the merchant. Thesecond half of the story recounts the events consequent upon the coincidental meetingof Aksionov and the real murderer. Aksionov tried to answer, but could hardly utter a word, and only stammered: “I-I don’t know- not mine.” Then the police officer said, “This morning the merchant was found in bed with his throat cut. You are the only person who could have done it. The house was locked from the inside, and no one else was there. Here is the bloodstained knife in your bag, and your face and manner betray you! Tell me how you killed him and how much money you stole. Application of Systemic Grammar to Leo Tolstoy’s short story God Sees the Truth, but Waits
  3. 3. Page |3 Aksionov swore he had not done it; that he had seen the merchant after they had had tea together; that he had no money except eight thousand roubles of his own, and that the knife was not his. But his voice was broken, his face pale, and he trembled with fear as though he were guilty. The passage has eight sentences. There are eight verbs in the sentencethat refers to Aksionov as a participant. There are also relational clauses that show thecircumstantial evidence that ties Aksionov to the murder of the merchant. WhenAksionov was trying to explain that he has not done it, we can see the use of verb ofcognition and perception. However, these verbs were not able to convince the policethat Aksionov is innocent because they are negated by the succeeding sentence “ Buthis voice was broken, his face pale, and he trembled with fear as though he were guilty.The protagonists emotional response to his confrontation with the authorities is whattriggers the authority to think that he is really guilty. Aksionov is highly agitated, stunned,stammering, and confused; hence he loses his self control. His wife is in despair, and did not know what to believe. Her children were all quite small; one was a baby at her breast. Taking them all with her, she went to the town where her husband was in gaol. At first she was not able to see him; but after much begging, she obtained permission from the officials, and was taken to him. When she saw her husband in prison dress and in chains, shut up with thieves and criminals, she fell down, and did not come to her senses for a long time. Then she drew her children to her, and sat down near him. She told Application of Systemic Grammar to Leo Tolstoy’s short story God Sees the Truth, but Waits
  4. 4. Page |4 him of things at home, and asked about what happened to him. He told her and she asked, “what can we do now?” The passage above is lifted from the story when the wife of Aksionov found outwhat happened to her husband. The passage above is composed of eight sentenceswith different types of verbs. In the first sentence His wife is in despair, and did notknow what to believe we can see the effect of Aksionov fate to his wife. Aksionov hereis the causer of the process (although it is not implicitly implied in the sentence) the wifeon the other hand is the affected participant. The second sentence, her children wereall quite small; one was a baby at her breast shows that it is not only the wife who is theaffected participant but also the children. In the next sentence, taking them all with her,she went to the town to see her husband in gaol. The wife and the children becomes theactor, the process went and the beneficiary or recipient of the action is Aksionov. Whenthe wife came to the gaol and saw her husband, she was subjected to a humiliatingcircumstance of begging just to see her husband. As the passage progresses we cansee the wife’s inner struggle upon seeing her husband chained and detained like a Application of Systemic Grammar to Leo Tolstoy’s short story God Sees the Truth, but Waits
  5. 5. Page |5common criminal. When she saw her husband in prison dress and chains, shut withthieves and criminals, she fell down, and did not come to her senses for a long time.The verb of perception saw make the wife realizes the enormity of the problem that hishusband is currently facing. The verb fell gives a hint as to the action that the wife willtake about his husband. She told him of the things at home and asked him whathappened to him. Two transitive verbs are given here. But the objects of these transitiveverbs are both him. We can now surmise that the wife is putting all the blame for whathappened to his husband. On the latter part of the passage, the wife asked” What canwe do now?” This shows inaction on the part of the wife and total dependency to thehusband. Despite the fact that the husband is already in jail, the wife cannot make hisown decision as to what to do for her husband and for the family. When Aksionov heard these words, he felt sure this was the man who had killed the merchant. He rose and went away. All that night Aksionov lay awake. He felt terribly unhappy, and all sorts of images rose in his mind. There was the image of his wife as she was when he parted from her to go to the fair. He saw her as if she were present; her face and her eyes rose before him; he heard her speak and laugh. Then he saw his children, quite little, as they were at that time: one with a little cloak on, another at his mothers breast. And then he remembered himself as he used to be—young and merry. He remembered how he sat playing the guitar in the porch of the inn where he was arrested, and how free from care he had been. He saw, in his mind, the place where he was flogged, the executioner, and the people standing around; the chains, the convicts, all the Application of Systemic Grammar to Leo Tolstoy’s short story God Sees the Truth, but Waits
  6. 6. Page |6 twenty-six years of his prison life, and his premature old age. The thought of it all made him so wretched that he was ready to kill himself. The passage above was lifted on the part when Makar Semyonich arrivedin the prison and Aksionov learned that he was the one who killed the merchant that hewas accused of killing. In the passage we can see sixteen verbs, all are mental processverb. The verb of perception heard and felt in the first sentence Aksionov fully realizedall the pains that he suffered only because he was wrongly accused. Upon perceivingthe truth, Aksionov didn’t do anything; instead, He rose and ran away. The secondsentence indicates inaction on the part of Aksionov as shown by the verb. He just roseand ran away instead telling them the truth, or blame Makar or hurl something at Makarfor what he did to him for twenty six years. He didn’t verbalize his fury instead; Aksionovbecame a participant in the mental process. The verb remembered, which is ideationalwas twice repeated in this passage. His agonies rested on the verb remember as hesaw in his mind the face of his wife, his children and what he has suffered for twenty sixyears. The reader knows from the beginning what the truth is and the entire interest ofthe story is in the observation of Aksionovs reactions against the injustice of his Application of Systemic Grammar to Leo Tolstoy’s short story God Sees the Truth, but Waits
  7. 7. Page |7situation. Aksionovs despair and later his resignation are, one would think, universallycomprehensible. His ultimate joy is the fact in his development as a character that isdifficult to understand; and whatever the explanation of this joy may be, it is certainly notto be found in his coming to know the truth about the crime. Who knows better than theprotagonist himself that it was not he who committed the murder? And when hisknowledge is expanded by the certain belief that in Makar he has discovered the realmurderer, his immediate reaction is not one of joy and satisfaction but rather of hatredand bitterness. The theme of spiritual triumph and liberation is reinforced in the story throughinterplay of symbols. The first of these is Aksionovs home. The context of its useidentifies his home very closely with the material aspect of Aksionov. One of the firstthings the reader learns about Aksionov is that he has two shops and a home. While inprison Aksionov received no word from home, but it is clear that he retained an interestin it since it was the first question he asked of Makar when he learned that they wereboth from the same town. Having guessed that Makar was the real murderer, he was Application of Systemic Grammar to Leo Tolstoy’s short story God Sees the Truth, but Waits
  8. 8. Page |8consumed by longing for his former life. He conjured up that life in terms of the imagesof his wife and children, the very essence of his home. His forgiveness of Makar markedhis release from the power of this emotion: "And Aksionov ceased longing for home . . ."Taking Aksionovs home as the symbol of his material life, we find that references to theimportance of the home exactly parallel the initial dominance and final surrender of thematerial aspect of Aksionovs character. Closely related to the symbol of Aksionovshome is that of the prison. Since the prison replaces the home as the center ofAksionovs material existence, it is natural to look upon it as a contrast to the home.That was precisely what Aksionov did. The prison was the setting of his tragedy andgrief, while home was the object of his longing and desire. This opposition is maintaineduntil the act of forgiveness that is the climax of the story. After that, prison and home areno longer opposed but are rather joined in relation to a third and more importantconsideration. "And he ceased longing for home and no longer wanted to leave theprison, and he only thought about his final hour." Aksionovs ceasing to distinguishhome and prison has come about through transference of his attention from the material Application of Systemic Grammar to Leo Tolstoy’s short story God Sees the Truth, but Waits
  9. 9. Page |9sphere in general to the spiritual one. He began to think only of his "final hour," hiscomplete departure from the material world into that of the spiritual. "God Sees theTruth, But Waits" portrays the spiritual development of the protagonist in material terms.The relationship between these two planes of existence is wholly symbolic; the spiritualdoes not emerge as a directly stated phenomenon. That the total disregard for materialvalues which characterizes Aksionov at his death is a desirable quality but it is a hardlesson to teach. It seems to confront reason and human nature with hostility. To avoidthis hostility the spiritual plane of the story and the lesson that it suggests are masked,but in such a way that they can be discovered. The narrative, by including no specificmention of the spiritual plane or lesson, masks their existence. The structure of thenarrative, however, produces a tension in the story that can be resolved only bydiscovering what has been hidden. Application of Systemic Grammar to Leo Tolstoy’s short story God Sees the Truth, but Waits