Reading Questions on Tolstoy


1. Tolstoy gives us the parable of what he calls the Eastern Story. What does the imagery described in the story symbolize? What does the branch represent? What does the dragon represent? What do the mice represent? What does the honey represent? 2. At the beginning of the reading, Tolstoy describes his current life. Would you consider his status in life to be successful and something to be desired? What does he have in regards to money, family, career, and fame? Think about it this way: He is a count of noble birth, he is a famous and renowned writer, and has a loving family. He has earned his money and renowned due to the fact that he is one of the most talented writers of the 19th century. In contemporary terms, he has everything that the Kardashians have, plus actual talent to justify his lifestyle, but is he happy or satisfied? 3. There is a turning point in his life that brings into question everything he believed that would make life go well. What is it? 4. He starts a quest looking for answers. Where does Tolstoy first turn to find the answers and what type of answers does he receive? 5. In this reading, Tolstoy gives several different definitions of “truth.” He first states “truth” as “everyday life”; he second states “truth” is “death”, and finally concludes “truth” is “faith.” Explain what each definition of “truth” means, and then explain what aspect of each defi- nition has in common with the other definitions Tolstoy offers. Which, if any, of these definitions, do you think most people would agree is the “truth” of their lives? 6. What are the answers he receives from the educated class and his colleagues to include his search in the sciences? 7. Near the end of the reading, he finds himself with a segment of the society that is quite different from him. Who are they and what type of answers does he find from them?

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