I can't believe the degree to which this argument has gotten out of
First, though, an aside...it has been the tradition of B5 areas on
various systems to be a little more polite than other areas. Granted, we
all sometimes lose our temper and slip into name-calling. I've done it
myself. But lately I've been seeing one after another, using every name
in the book. Points can be communicated without resorting to this sort of
thing, and frankly, after a while, it simply loses its impact.
Just a thought.
Now, on the samovar issue...whatever your background, if your family
grew up in Russia and has been there for several hundred years or more --
and the Ivanov family has been there since at LEAST the 1800s -- you do
become part of the culture. That, as I always understood it, was part of
the reason for making sure children learned hebrew, yiddish *and* the
dominant language of the culture, to give their kids a fighting chance in
a difficult world. It's not so much a case of the culture assimiliating
the individual (though certainly that happens as well), but the individual
INCORPORATING the culture.
Ivanova is jewish. Ivanova is russian. Of the two, she tends to see
herself as a russian first. There's no value statement there, that's
just the way she is. Her parents were both russian, going back many
generations on both sides. Some in her family tree were jewish, and some
were not; there was some intermarrying. That may be part of why she sees
herself as more russian than jewish, but it may be just a quirk.
(And to the protest of, "Well, you created her," yes, I did. But
there comes a time, if you've done your job right as a writer, when the
character more or less takes over, and starts telling YOU who and what he
or she is. There are times I mentally turn to Ivanova and say, "Okay,
what do *you* think?" And she talks to me in my head, as do all of my
characters. It's part of making your characters real.)
When she went off to boarding school overseas -- part of an ongoing
international system put into place by EarthGov to help its various member
nations get along with one another -- she identified most strongly with
that russian aspect in relation to those around her. She learned to speak
English without a perceptible accent.
The samovar is a valued and valuable part of russian life. It is the
family hearth, on one level, a possession passed on from generation to
generation. Knowing that Ivanova was not terribly religious herself, he
would generally not leave her any of his personal religious artifacts, but
would donate them to the local synagogue, while some, like a menorah, might
go to other relatives. People who could appreciate them and use them.
The samovar is a very personal object; to the correspondent with a fiance
who is russian...*I* am byeloruss, white-russian, one-and-a-half
generation American born. And I can tell you that the biggest fights I've
ever seen over bequeaths were over a) money, and b) the samovar.
The problem with this discussion is that it has very little to do
with who Susan Ivanova *is*, and more to do with the politics of what a
russian or a jew or a russian jew *should be*. She is what she is, like
it or not.