Pale Fire

by

Vladimir Nabokov

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Oleg, the Duke of Rahl, was King Charles’s favorite childhood playmate and, the novel implies, his first sexual partner. When King Charles first discovers the secret passageway in his grandfather’s old dressing room closet, he explores it with Oleg. King Charles later uses the same secret passageway to escape the palace after the Zemblan revolution. By this time, Oleg is long-dead as a result of a toboggan accident, but Charles feels Oleg’s presence in the tunnel.
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Oleg Character Timeline in Pale Fire

The timeline below shows where the character Oleg appears in Pale Fire. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Commentary: Lines 101-143
Patterns, Fate, and Coincidence Theme Icon
Thirty years before, when the King was thirteen, he was waiting for his friend Oleg to come visit him at the castle. On their last visit, they had been allowed... (full context)
Loss and Longing Theme Icon
The Nature of Art Theme Icon
Oleg arrived as Charles was returning to the lumber room, and the two boys went down... (full context)
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Loss and Longing Theme Icon
Panicking, Charles and Oleg ran back through the tunnel to the palace. They went to wash up and, with... (full context)
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...saw the key in the keyhole. He hadn’t thought of it in a long time—after Oleg’s death a couple years later, he blocked it out. Charles opened the closet and found... (full context)
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Death, Mystery, and the Afterlife Theme Icon
Loss and Longing Theme Icon
...with him as a “talisman.” Once in the passage, he lit his flashlight—the ghost of Oleg, the “phantom of freedom”—and in that light, realized that he was dressed in bright red. (full context)
Death, Mystery, and the Afterlife Theme Icon
...more run down than it was years before. While walking, Charles found a footprint of Oleg’s in the sand and a statue of Mercury (who brought souls to the underworld). At... (full context)