Caucasian Chalk Circle: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. “We hope you will find that the voice of the old poet also sounds well in the shadow of Soviet tractors” (sc. 1, p. 8).

    The Singer explains they will put on a play by an old Chinese poet in a modified form that will be relevant to the Communist workers.
  2. “But Georgi, of course, builds only for his little Michael. Never for me.  (sc. 2, p.14).

    Natella Abashvili is the selfish Governor’s wife and is jealous of her child for getting all the Governor’s attention. He is enlarging the palace for his son, not his wife. This foretells her abandonment of her child during the coup.
  3. “Is the young lady impatient? Does she want cherries in winter?” (sc. 2, p. 18).

    The soldier Simon is asking for Grusha’s hand in marriage. He wants to know if she will wait for him to come back from the wars.
  4. “Grusha, you’re a good soul. But you know you’re not too bright. I tell you if he had the plague it couldn’t be worse.” (sc. 2, p. 23).

    The servants are all fleeing the Governor’s mansion during the military coup. The child Michael, the Governor’s baby son, has been left behind in the panic. The cook tells Grusha to leave the child, for the soldiers will want to kill the heir too, but Grusha has a motherly response to him. Though she is a servant, and the boy a noble, they are both human beings.
  5. “A good soldier has his heart and soul in it. He lets himself be hacked to pieces by his superiors . . . for him, that’s reward enough” (sc. 3, p. 33).

    The Fat Prince’s Ironshirts are tracking Grusha and the child. The Corporal instructs his fellow guard in their inhuman creed.
  6. “But you can’t stay here long. You must realize she’s very pious.” (sc. 4, p. 41).

    Grusha’s brother in the mountains, Lavrenti, says this to his starving sister who appears to be fleeing with an illegitimate child. She claims Michael is hers to save him but exposes herself to the hypocritical piety of her sister-in-law who is afraid of what people will say.
  7. “We stand deeply moved in front of a bed of death and marriage, because the bride gets into bed, and the groom into a grave” (sc. 4, p. 51).

    The drunken monk is ready to marry Grusha to Yussup and then bury the groom. Lavrenti talks Grusha into marrying a dying man to become respectable. Yussup, however,  is only faking his death to get out of military service.
  8. “They found better fish than me, so they didn’t eat me, said the haddock” (sc. 4, p. 57).

    Simon returns from the war, explaining he was lucky not to get killed. Grusha and Simon often speak to each other in proverbs that downplay the severity of what they have been through. He claims he was not good to eat when in truth, he was brave and witnessed the horrors of war.
  9. “I’m a rabbit-eater, but you’re a man-eater, Shauva” (sc. 5, p. 65).

    Azdak reproaches the policeman for trying to arrest the poor man he is hiding in his shack. Shauva often chases Azdak for poaching animals. The poor, like rabbits, are supposed to be game only for the rich. Eating animals when hungry is not as bad as the policeman’s persecution of other human beings, Azdak says.
  10. “His balances were crooked/ But they shouted in the streets:--Good, good, good is Azdak/ And the measure that he metes!” (sc. 5, p. 77).

    The Singer praises the crooked justice of the drunken Judge Azdak who rules in favor of the poor.

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