Notes from Underground


Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Officer Character Analysis

In part one, the underground man tries to get into a bar fight, and he steps in an officer’s way. The officer, though, merely moves him aside without saying anything, practically ignoring him. The underground man thinks of challenging him to a duel, but decides to get his revenge by bumping into him in the street and forcing the officer to acknowledge him as a person. When he finally gathers the courage to do this, though, the officer pretends not to notice the underground man. The officer is representative of how society tends to ignore and neglect the underground man.

The Officer Quotes in Notes from Underground

The Notes from Underground quotes below are all either spoken by The Officer or refer to The Officer. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W. W. Norton & Company edition of Notes from Underground published in 2000.
Part 2, Chapter 1 Quotes

One morning, although I never engaged in literary activities, it suddenly occurred to me to draft a description of this officer as a kind of exposé, a caricature, in the form of a tale. I wrote it with great pleasure. I exposed him; I even slandered him. At first I altered his name only slightly, so that it could be easily recognized; but then, upon careful reflection, I changed it. Then I sent the tale off to Notes of the Fatherland. but such exposés were no longer in fashion, and they didn’t publish my tale. I was very annoyed by that. At times I simply choked on my spite. Finally, I resolved to challenge my opponent to a duel. I composed a beautiful, charming letter to him. . . But, thank God (to this day I thank the Almighty with tears in my eyes), I didn’t send that letter.

Related Characters: The Officer
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

Suddenly, three paces away from my enemy, I made up my mind unexpectedly; I closed my eyes and—we bumped into each other forcefully, shoulder to shoulder! I didn’t yield an inch and walked by him on completely equal footing! He didn’t even turn around to look at me and pretended that he hadn’t even noticed; but he was merely pretending, I’m convinced of that. To this very day I’m convinced of that! Naturally, I got the worst of it; he was stronger, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that I’d achieved my goal, I’d maintained my dignity, I hadn’t yielded one step, and I’d publicly placed myself on an equal social footing with him. I returned home feeling completely avenged for everything. I was ecstatic. I rejoiced and sang Italian arias.

Related Characters: The Underground Man (speaker), The Officer
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Officer Character Timeline in Notes from Underground

The timeline below shows where the character The Officer appears in Notes from Underground. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 1
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
Literature and Writing Theme Icon
...the bar thinking that he could also get into a fight. He gets in an officer’s way, but the man simply moves him without saying anything, as if he didn’t even... (full context)
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Human Nature Theme Icon
...eyes of society,” forced to get out of everyone else’s way. He occasionally sees the officer on this street, and steps aside whenever he and the officer walk into each other’s... (full context)
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
...them, which is embarrassing for him. The underground man sets out to bump into the officer, but finds he kept stepping out of the way at the last second. (full context)
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
One time, the underground man trips and falls, and the officer merely steps over him. Finally, he carries out his plan, and bumps into the officer.... (full context)