Reading for Thursday, June 11
Here we have another bizarre chapter, where Natasha is waiting for Pierre to return from business and gets all upset when he doesn’t come back. Is this because him being away reminds her of the time that Andrei went away for a year and she betrayed him? I don’t know, it’s not mentioned, but it could be . . .
I must admit, it was hard to concentrate too hard on the subtleties of this chapter, because I was too busy noticing the interesting cultural understanding of breastfeeding that we get from this chapter (and the previous one). In the previous chapter, Natasha is portrayed as being quite radical for breastfeeding her own children instead of having a wet nurse.
And in this chapter, she “overfeeds” her baby and makes it ill. Certainly, if you give a baby too much breastmilk, you can give them a stomach-ache and they might start throwing up a bit more . . . but you can’t give an illness to a baby by giving them too much breastmilk.
How do I know all this? My wife is training to be a counsellor for the Australian Breastfeeding Association, so I’ve heard a fair bit of info about breastfeeding over the last few years . . . in fact, I’m hearing a fair bit as I write this.
Anyway, that’s a bit of a digression, but it goes to show the shifting and changing attitudes towards breastfeeding in society. (It went completely out in the 50s, when formula came in and now it’s starting to come back in again.)
Meanwhile, Pierre arrives back home and proves that he is good with the kids – which you’d kind of expect. Nikolai can’t see the value in babies, which slightly irks me – but hey, this is Nikolai . . . would he really act any differently?