We The Living

"What you lack," said Lydia, "are the things of the spirit."
"Frankly," said Victor, "your attitude is slightly antisocial, Kira. You select a profession merely because you want it, without giving a thought to the fact that, as a woman, you would be much more useful to the society in a more feminine capacity. And we have our duty to society to consider."
"Exactly to whom is it that you owe a duty, Victor?"
"To society."
"What is society?"
"If I may say it, Kira, this is a childish question."
"But," said Kira, her eyes dangerously gentle and wide, "I don't understand it. To whom is that I owe a duty? To your neighbour next door? Or to the militia-man on the corner? Or to the clerk in the co-operative? Or to the old man I saw in line, third from the door, with an old basket and a woman's hat?"
"Society, Kira, is a stupendous whole."
"If you write a whole line of zeroes, it's still - nothing."
"Child," said Vasili Ivanovitch, "what are you doing in Soviet Russia?"
"That," said Kira, "is what I'm wondering about."

Kira and Family

The first thing that Kira learned about life and the first thing that her elders learned, dismayed, about Kira, was the joy of being alone.

About Kira

"... Who suffers in this world? Those who lack something? No. Those who have something they should lack. A blind man can't see, but it's more impossible not to see for one whose eyes are too sharp. More impossible and more of atorture. If only one could lose sight and come down, down to the level of those who never want it, never miss it."

A Disappointed Leo

"There is no such thing as duty. If you know that a thing is right, you want to do it. If you don't want to do it - it isn't right. If it is right and you don't want to do it - you don't know what right is and you're not a man."

Comrade Taganov to Kira

"There is only one thing that matters and that we'll remember. The rest doesn't matter. I don't care what life is to be nor what it does to us. But it won't break us. Neither you nor me. That's our only weapon. That's the only banner we can hold against all those others around us. That's all we have to know about the future."

Kira to Leo, after his return from the sanatorium

"I've never had many questions to face in life. People create their own questions, because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don't sit looking at it - walk. ... Things are really very simple."
"You remember, you said once that we had the same root somewhere in both of us, because we both believed in life? It's a rare capacity and it can't be taught. And it can't be explained to those in whom that word - life - doesn't awaken the kind of feeling that a temple does, or a military march, or the statue of a perfect body."

Comrade Taganov to Kira

"The highest thing in a man is not his god. It's that in him which knows the reverence due to a god."

Andrei Taganov to Kira

"... No one can tell men what they must live for. No one can take that right - because there are things in men, in the best of us, which are above all states, above all collectives! Do you ask: what things? Man's mind and his values. Look into yourself, honestly and fearlessly. Look and don't tell me, don't tell any one, just tell yourself: what are you living for? Aren't you living for yourself? Call it your aim, your love, your cause - isn't it still your cause? Give your life, die for your ideal - isn't it still your ideal? Every honest man lives for himself. Every man worth calling a man lives for himself..."

Comrade Taganov

She smiled, her last smile, to so much that had been possible.

Kira, dying - The End