50 pages 1 hour read

Mikhail Lermontov

A Hero Of Our Time

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1838

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The Danger of Moral Indifference

Pechorin’s moral indifference is the source of suffering for many characters in the novel. Lermontov pairs Pechorin with various character types to show how his lack of empathy and concern for others affects them in negative ways. Maksim Maksimych, Grushnitski, and the women Pechorin meets are all affected by Pechorin for the worse because they mistakenly place their trust in someone who lacks a moral compass.

Maksim Maksimych and Pechorin represent opposing moral standpoints: Maksim Maksimych is humble and earnest while Pechorin is disengaged and cynical. The comparison is striking because, as an older man who has been in the military for over 20 years, Maksim Maksimych could easily be expected to be the more cynical individual. He believes in kindness, acting as a father figure to Bela and a genuine friend to Pechorin. He even shares his knowledge of the Caucasus with the narrator though he is under no obligation to do so. Though not a perfect character—he harbors many biases toward the people of the Caucasus and does little to intervene in the immoral acts he witnesses—he provides a counterpoint to Pechorin’s alienation by serving as an example of true friendship.