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While revising What did Vassily see when he looked at the sleeping woman? I read "The Hunt" again, just for the fun of it, and wondered about Vassily's motivation in the end of the story. While Valorum's answer is most certainly correct, I can't stop thinking whether there was more to Vassily giving up on pursuing Natasha than her being just a human.

I am talking about this panel:

Morpheus: "She dreams of walking through a covered market, looking for cornflowers and finding only goblets of sour blood. Well? Do you dare wake her up?"
Click for full-resolution panel, or click here for the full page.

On my first reading of the story, I assumed that it was in fact her dream that caused Vassily to simply return her the locket and leave. I assumed that her dreaming of "goblets of sour blood" was a bad sign, and would be viewed in a negative light by Vassily, because who dreams of sour blood anyway?

There is also this panel, where Vassily says "it was about dreams", which I took literally on my first reading:

Vassily: "But it wasn't about your boyfriend. It wasn't really even about the people. It was about what he saw when he looked at the sleeping woman... Why he turned his back on her. It was about dreams..."
Click for full resolution

Is there anything to support that Natasha's dream had contributed to Vassily's change of mind about her?

  • 2
    Ehhh... pass on this one. My thought would be "people dream weird crap". – Radhil Jun 2 '17 at 19:36
  • Looks like it. Still, I just had to ask this ine to get it off my chest. – Gallifreyan Jun 2 '17 at 19:45
  • It strikes me that if Vassily was served wine during his dinner at the castle, he might be inclined to describe it as "sour blood." But I still can't figure out a way to interpret the dream. – Pixel Jun 21 '17 at 23:09
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Valorum's explanation of Vassily's refusal of "Natasha" is very nice, and also has support from the text and the author. However, I have a slightly different theory, based on different pieces of evidence from "The Hunt." I think that Vassily's infatuation with the Duke's daughter was solely due to Desire's influence, which dissipated when he gave up the emerald heart. (Ergo, I don't think that her dream had any part in his refusal; I think it's just interesting extra story pieces.)

While the discussion here isn't yet quite complete, it's clear that the emerald heart of Koschei the Deathless is, in some way, connected to Desire. I suggested that Desire may be trying to push Vassily into entering a desire-based relationship with the Duke's daughter, so as to claim him for its domain. (Claiming humans for a domain is a thing among the Endless; Desire, Despair, and Dream fight over Emperor Norton, for example, in a different story in Fables and Reflections. Despair is also shown to expend much effort trying to draw people into her realm of depression in Brief Lives.) Desire's influence over Vassily manifests through that emerald heart.*

It's instructive, I think, that Vassily does not begin to covet life outside of the forest, or women at all, until he is exposed to the heart. Once that happens, though, he uproots his life in the forest completely to pursue this one woman who he's only seen a miniature photograph of.

But what's most relevant to this answer is that his infatuation with Natasha (or whatever her name is) simply disappears after he gives up the heart to Baba Yaga. As Desire's influence over Vassily wanes, he completes his quest to meet the girl, but ultimately decides to leave her after returning the miniature (behaving outwardly as though that was always his mission, perhaps to save face in front of Dream and Lucien).

Then, having escaped Desire's plot to entrap him in a relationship that was likely doomed by social class and personality, he ultimately settles down with another of "the people" that he had encountered during his journey.


* It may be interesting to note that the fairy tale "The Death of Koschei the Deathless" revolves around Koschei's coveting of another's wife. In other words, it appears that Desire had much to do with the original owner of this emerald heart.
Additionally, while we don't know when the old Romany woman received this emerald heart, she does tell Vassily that her life involved many "mistakes" with all those young men who looked at her "with fire in his eyes," and at least one failed romance (which, I just noticed, also involved running away from a tribe and probably attempting to marry out of her social class) that ended in a broken heart. Those parts of the old woman's story may also bear the stamp of Desire's influence.

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  • Originally posted (accidentally, and deleted) here: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/162016/41144 – Shokhet Jun 20 '17 at 20:05
  • I respectfully disagree. Even after giving up the heart, Vassily says he wants the woman (meaning of course Duke's daughter). When I said "the heart is linked to Desire", I never meant it was Desire's sinister plot. While the line is thin between dreams and desires, in Vassily's case she was a dream, not a desire. – Gallifreyan Jun 20 '17 at 20:58
  • I think that he continues saying that he wants the woman, because he's too proud to allow Lucien to think that he's changed his mind. When push comes to shove, though, and he's in her room, he gives her the locket as if it was his goal the whole time. (Alternatively, Desire's influence wanes gradually after Vassily gives up the heart.) – Shokhet Jun 20 '17 at 21:44
  • Occam's razor disagrees. – Gallifreyan Jun 20 '17 at 21:45
  • Nice answer! I like your thinking about the role of the emerald heart and possible involvement of Desire. – Pixel Jun 21 '17 at 23:05

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