Pushkin’s retelling of the Pugachev Rebellion flows like a story. He introduces the Yaik Cossack clans first and tells the story from a third person point of view. The chapters are broken up into specific points in time. The rebellion was due to an accumulation of issues the Yaik Cossack clan faced during their transition as Russain citizens. Pugachev led the rebellion into many pillages and attacks on villages throughout Russia. His rebellion frightened citizens in Moscow which led Catherine the Great to be on high alert. His rebellion left a lasting impact on poor citizens, serfs, and other enthic groups. Although the rebellion was quelled in the end, complete order of all cossacks was a long road. The rebellion still rang in their ears.
Pushkin’s retelling of this history allows for a lot of questions to be asked both about his style of writing and the rebellion itself. Here are a few questions that we have:
- How is Catherine portrayed throughout the novel?
- Why did Pushkin spend time introducing the history of the Yaik Cossacks? Why is it important?
- What is the importance of detailing all of their grievances?
- Do you think that Mikhelson was obsessed with catching Pugachev? Or just passionate about protecting his country?
- On page 37 and on, Pushkin writes that Pugachev had no absolute authority. What is the importance of this? How did this impact how the rebellion continued, if at all? How did Pugachev feel about this?
- Throughout Mikhelson’s military campaign he allows people he had captured to join his ranks, do you think this was a smart move? Why or why not?
- Who do you think had the higher level of military strategy, Mikhelson or Pugachev?