First Love Response
Reading the book, First Love, was if I have plunged back into the past, experiencing the momentum of my, I would say, infatuation rather than first love. What captured my attention, in the book the most, was the peculiar interaction between Zinaida and Volodiy. Volodiy’s behavior toward Zinaida is universal expression of feelings of infatuation. Volodiy’s invisible expression of feelings toward Zinaida is like a scientific fact to Zinaida that Volodiy is in “love” with her. In contrast with Volodiy, Zinaida s way of communicating her feelings toward Volodiy is flirtatious and cruel, which leaves Volodiy confused and doubtful.
It is obvious that Volodiy fell in love with Zinaida from the first sight, when he describes what he felt the first time he noticed Zinaida in the yard…. “My rifle slipped to the grass; I forgot everything; my eyes devoured the graceful figure, the lovely neck, the beautiful arms, the slightly disheveled fair hair under the white kerchief- and the half- closed, perceptive eye, the lashes, the soft cheek beneath them” (top p. 26). What Volodiy felt was very strong and sincere toward Zinaida, but he did not realize that he was the next one to be victimized. Even though Volodiy never expressed his feelings openly in words to Zinaida, she knew that he was deeply attracted to her. As if Zinaida took for granted every man she met and assumed that it is inevitable for a man not to fall in love with her. Whether Volodiy’s feelings were obvious or not to Zinaida, she immediately took advantage of what Volodiy felt toward her and punished him. Volodiy, who is still innocent, who only experiences his feelings for the first time in his life, takes abuse eagerly upon his shoulders without even realizing it.
The irony is that the cruel torments, that Volodiy receives, are from his beloved. She did everything that she liked with him. Even though at some point she said to Volodiy that she loves him, she contradicted herself because she tormented him physically and psychologically. The moment I thought was especially cruel and where Volodiy suffered some indirect physical abuse from Zinaida, was when Zinaida ordered Volodiy to jump off the roof in the sake of his love to her…. Now you always declare, she went on, that you love me. Well, then, jump down into the road to me, if you truly love me” (bottom p. 67). Volodiy is a prisoner of love. Even though he’s young, he would do everything to prove his love to Zinaida. Besides the physical torment that Volodiy has taken, he has also suffered even more from Zinaida’s indirect emotional abuse. This took place when Volodiy followed his father and saw both Zinaida and his father met together in the garden intimately talking to each other. It was probably the most devastating moment in Volodiy s life that Zinaida belonged to someone else, not necessarily to his father.
I find the book to be pretty ironic, not so much because Zinaida dies at the end, but because Zinaida didn t deserve to be loved, after all the physical and emotional abuse she has inflicted upon Volodiy. It is simply unfair to love and not to be loved back. Even though according to “the universal law of reciprocation”, we should not expect anything in return. It was so unfair to the point that when Volodiy was already grown man he could not recall any moments in his life where he would experience the same feelings that would make him happy, or the same passions toward another person- and that is sad.