Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sat Dec 07, 2019 5:12 am





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
The Overcoat 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Book General

Silver Contributor

Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 2517
Location: New Jersey
Thanks: 557
Thanked: 448 times in 357 posts
Gender: Female

Post The Overcoat
"The Overcoat", by Nikolai Gogol



Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:24 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I Should Be Bronzed

Silver Contributor

Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 1655
Location: Hampton, Ga
Thanks: 254
Thanked: 325 times in 248 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: The Overcoat
Read this one last night before hitting the sack. It's about a simple civil servant who's all about his work and puts his life savings into a single piece of clothing. It's luxury but the need and utility of the article is apparent. It really glorifies the working man as it contrasts his standard of living with that of people in higher ranks.

The man sacrifices food and light to be able to buy a single piece of clothing and gets it made by a one eyed drunk that lives in his building. He gets it for a very good deal, too. The main character is thrilled about his coat.

The reader is aware of all the sacrifices the man has to make in order to afford the jacket. It's amazing to think that the character needs to forgo eating and lighting his small home with candles when he only eats a bowl of soup a night and has no life - he just copies as a hobby when he has no leftover material from work to bring home. So he doesn't spend any money on food or nightlife or anything. This man must really be poor.

The main character is also an introvert and a hard worker. He's only concerned with his work and doesn't bother anyone. He doesn't make mistakes and is content with his job. He loves his job copying papers.

When the character gets his coat and goes to the party - it's a huge contrast from his life. On the coat rack are coats that are probably far nicer than his. At the end of the party when he decides to leave he finds his coat has been put on the floor. This coat is everything to him and besides his work is probably the only thing that brings him happiness.

I won't give the ending away but I'll discuss later on when everyone's read the story.

I really started to think that the main character was going to start opening up when he was getting the coat made. It seemed like life was entering into him as he began to dream and get side tracked from his work. He was asked to a social event and it was almost as if he would take the next step. He even chased after a female when he had left the party. It appeared as if he was about to start living.

The story makes its impact because the man had nothing and was all about just working and being left alone. He wasn't grumpy or ill mannered - he was just a little awkward and shy. He was dirt poor. He had absolutely nothing besides the coat.

alright I gotta get ready for work.



Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:19 am
Profile Email YIM
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Sophomore


Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 261
Location: Wheaton, Illinois, USA
Thanks: 26
Thanked: 34 times in 31 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: The Overcoat
The story can be read as "what happens to someone who forgets (try to live beyond) their station in life."
Since this is Gogol I doubt that is what he intended. More like "there is no joy or justice for those who strive for a little bit of happiness in this unfair world."


_________________
--Gary

"Freedom is feeling easy in your harness" --Robert Frost


Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:12 am
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
The Great Gabsby


Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 60
Location: Chicago
Thanks: 6
Thanked: 19 times in 11 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: The Overcoat
GaryG48 wrote:
The story can be read as "what happens to someone who forgets (try to live beyond) their station in life."
Since this is Gogol I doubt that is what he intended. More like "there is no joy or justice for those who strive for a little bit of happiness in this unfair world."


I agree that the second reading is likely the correct one. According to the back of the book, "The Overcoat" is supposed to be "woefully comic." I didn't really find it comic at all, until the bit at the end. Mostly, I thought it was a pretty sad story. It really makes you rethink your priorities.

The schadenfreude at the end made me leave the story feeling good, though. Gogol really showcases how great a storyteller he is in this one.



Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:25 am
Profile Email
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Finds books under furniture

Silver Contributor

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 1680
Thanks: 178
Thanked: 147 times in 132 posts
Gender: None specified
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: The Overcoat
I found this story to be so sad. All of those fine overcoats at that stupid party and someone had to go and steal his. The injustice of that made me so angry, but then I thought about it longer and thought, "well, yes, that's life, and life isn't fair."

The strangeness of the ending sort of took me by surprise, although I guess the strangeness took away the sting of the injustice. He had been coping with the hardships he had endured over his life by keeping his nose down, doing his job (maybe even finding a small, sad pleasure in his job) and living his quiet life and not dreaming of being more until he finds he needs a new overcoat. He originally intends to have the coatmaker fix his old coat, but the coatmaker deems it to be beyond repair, something the main character had not even have realized because he was so used to just patching it up over and over again and having it keep him from death, and that was enough.

But the prospect of a new coat causes him to work harder, scrimp more, and even begin to dream, and I think that the luxury of the new coat and the desire to move up in station sidetracks him from what has been right for him all of his life: doing what is necessary and being himself. I don't want to suggest I am reading it as a "no man should try to move up in life," but I do think that when the man had nothing to lose, he was content with what he had, and when he finally had something that was fine enough for him to fear losing it, he was unable to continue in life because he had lost something worth losing and could not go back to having nothing (not to mention he'd freeze to death without a coat). When he had nothing, nothing was good enough, but once he had a taste of something beautiful and then before he could even really know how to love the thing it was taken, he could not bear to have nothing anymore. Like many other characters who have been in this position, he just wastes away, as he has lost the will to live.

I do feel that this is how a great majority of people in the world feel, even now, that Gary is right, "there is no joy or justice for those who strive for a little bit of happiness in this unfair world." I think all of us can relate to this with the economy the way it is, where people who used to be making a fair living for themselves and their children now worry about how to put food on the table while big banks who caused the problems have CEOs who are still making millions. It only shows how poignant and relevent Gogol is, even hundreds of years later. I see this tale in the news everyday, I am having these kinds of troubles myself, and it saddens me as much as this story, but I'm glad it is here to show us that we are not the only ones who suffer, that we can at least say that we are not alone in our pain.



Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:06 pm
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Official Newbie!


Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 3
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post
Gender: None specified

Post Re: The Overcoat
Hello to everyone here! :)

Well, Gogol raised the important theme of “little man” in the Russian literature, as Dostoevsky would later say “We all come out from Gogol’s Overcoat”. Indeed, Akaky Akakievich (the name sounding rather comical by itself) is a so-called "little man", poor and lonely and humiliated, who doesn’t notice anything around him, and whose life is totally centered on copying official papers. He deserves pity, certainly, but aren’t you somewhat frightened by his irresponsiveness, by how meaningless his life is, by pettiness of his dream (interestingly, the overcoat becomes the protagonist of the story, thus an object being at least as important or maybe even more important than a human being). Was it his poverty that drove him into this “robotic” state or something else? Did Gogol, with the ending, in a certain way predict the rise of spirit in all “little men” which resulted in the Great October Revolution?

May I also recommend the Italian movie Il Cappotto based on the story. It’s really good!



Wed Mar 24, 2010 3:08 pm
Profile Email
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Finds books under furniture

Silver Contributor

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 1680
Thanks: 178
Thanked: 147 times in 132 posts
Gender: None specified
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: The Overcoat
Aida wrote:
Hello to everyone here! :)

Well, Gogol raised the important theme of “little man” in the Russian literature, as Dostoevsky would later say “We all come out from Gogol’s Overcoat”. Indeed, Akaky Akakievich (the name sounding rather comical by itself) is a so-called "little man", poor and lonely and humiliated, who doesn’t notice anything around him, and whose life is totally centered on copying official papers. He deserves pity, certainly, but aren’t you somewhat frightened by his irresponsiveness, by how meaningless his life is, by pettiness of his dream (interestingly, the overcoat becomes the protagonist of the story, thus an object being at least as important or maybe even more important than a human being). Was it his poverty that drove him into this “robotic” state or something else? Did Gogol, with the ending, in a certain way predict the rise of spirit in all “little men” which resulted in the Great October Revolution?

May I also recommend the Italian movie Il Cappotto based on the story. It’s really good!


I really like this quote: “We all come out from Gogol’s Overcoat”. (also bolded above)

Not only does it have the sense of the supernatural that Gogol uses in this story, but it also implies that we are all "little people" toiling away, dreaming to one day have something better, and without that, we are nothing but the work we do. That certainly seems to ring true in the materialistic capitalist society we live in today (at least in America), where our worth is typically judged by the things we own and not the people we are.

Thank you for this point, Aida.



Wed Mar 24, 2010 3:20 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Graduate Student

Silver Contributor

Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 416
Location: Portland, OR
Thanks: 4
Thanked: 39 times in 32 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: The Overcoat
Quote:
“We all come out from Gogol’s Overcoat”
This is a good quote.

I did not feel overly saddened by this story. I did not feel like Akaky was unhappy with his life and I do not feel like Gogol wrote it that way. At the end he moved away from who he was in joining the party that night. He was not a partier, but felt talked into it by his coworkers. Then they kept him there longer than he wanted. Maybe that is what the stealing of the overcoat symbolizes - sort of his giving in to peer pressure - a movement away from his true self.

I really thought the part at the end where the police put out a warrant for the ghost's arrest really funny - wanted dead or alive. :laugh2: That is hilarious. I guess you will probably get him dead but I do not know how you are going to capture a ghost - Ghostbusters?



Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:41 pm
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Finds books under furniture

Silver Contributor

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 1680
Thanks: 178
Thanked: 147 times in 132 posts
Gender: None specified
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: The Overcoat
I now have a vision of 19th century Russian Ghostbusters, in fur coats and hats with proton packs and a crazy tricked out hearse.

"Я не испуган всех привидений!"

:lol:



Sat Apr 03, 2010 6:18 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Graduate Student

Silver Contributor

Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 416
Location: Portland, OR
Thanks: 4
Thanked: 39 times in 32 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: The Overcoat
Quote:
I now have a vision of 19th century Russian Ghostbusters, in fur coats and hats with proton packs and a crazy tricked out hearse.


:lol:



Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:43 pm
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:


Recent Posts 
• New Release Sundae, Calico Queen, Finds An Unlikely Friend Now available at Amazon Kindle

Sat Dec 07, 2019 3:22 am

brendaswainbooks

• New Release Charlie, My Personal Trainer Now available at Amazon

Sat Dec 07, 2019 3:21 am

brendaswainbooks

• New Release The Life Of Riley Now available at Amazon

Sat Dec 07, 2019 3:20 am

brendaswainbooks

• New Release Tireless Toby the Tire Now available at Amazon

Sat Dec 07, 2019 3:19 am

brendaswainbooks

• New Release Joyful Jake the Jelly Jar Now available at Amazon

Sat Dec 07, 2019 3:19 am

brendaswainbooks

• New Release Forgiveness the Flower Now available at Amazon Kindle

Sat Dec 07, 2019 1:21 am

richardracerbooks

• New Release Freddy's Fruit Now available at Amazon Kindle

Sat Dec 07, 2019 1:20 am

richardracerbooks

• New Release Dusty the Diamond Now available at Amazon

Sat Dec 07, 2019 1:19 am

richardracerbooks

• "It’s 2039, and Your Beloved Books Are Dead"

Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:30 pm

KindaSkolarly

• The Depopulation Agenda - war on humanity

Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:17 pm

KindaSkolarly

• Authors' Obituaries

Fri Dec 06, 2019 8:45 pm

KindaSkolarly

• Seeking Reviews for Literary Historical Fiction - Baby Snakes

Fri Dec 06, 2019 3:02 pm

BookBuzz

• Thomas Wolfe "Of Time And The River"

Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:51 am

BWM

• Naked Ambition: A Male Stripper’s True Account of Making Girls Behave Badly

Thu Dec 05, 2019 1:18 pm

stefandiamante

• Seeking reviews for my adventure book called Truth Come to Light

Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:39 am

AuthorTaryn


Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
How To Promote Your Book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2019. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank