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Hamishevsky
11-12-2011, 02:09 AM
From the Everyman's Library edition.

Just before harassing the Baronness in the park. Polina says "And why should you insult a woman? You'll sooner get beaten with a stick".

Is this an appeal to reason? That he shouldn't do it because he will get a beatdown.

OR

He'll get whacked with the stick before he can insult or so he'd be better off insulting the man who is going to whack him/ or because he did whack him.

OR

The protagonist would rather take a beating than insult a woman ie. is a masochist.

OR SOMETHING ELSE?

Gladys
11-12-2011, 06:04 AM
"Ah! Then I can see that you are only a trifler," she said contemptuously. "Your eyes are swimming with bloodóbut only because you have drunk a little too much at luncheon. Do I not know that what I have asked you to do is foolish and wrong, and that the General will be angry about it? But I want to have a good laugh, all the same. I want that, and nothing else. Why should you insult a woman, indeed? Well, you will be given a sound thrashing for so doing."

Surely the woman insulted is Polina herself. And any sound thrashing of Alexei Ivanovich will be just recompense that insult.