The Quiet in the Land

Posted 6 months ago
Richard Toews

Category : Fiction & Literature


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It's Russia, 1917. The world is on the brink of one of the great social experiments, the Russian Revolution. The peasants are restless. They are no longer willing to tolerate oppression. In this world, we find Johann Toews, the son of a Mennonite pastor. From his father, Abraham, Johann learns that he must keep to the principles set down by scriptures, to obey God. From the Mennonite community, Johann also learns that Mennonites are to keep themselves separate from the world, particularly the Russian peasants. How, Johann wonders and struggles, should he resolve the contradiction: to honor God, to love justice and mercy, and yet treat the peasants as no better than the cattle that serve the Mennonites. In his inner struggle to resolve the contradiction, Johann encounters four people: Jacob, his father's brother, and Ivan, a Russian peasant and friend of Jacob; Mr. Enns, Johann's teacher; and Piotra, a childhood friend, and Russian peasant. From Iakhov and Ivan, Johann learns that responsibility is the price one pays to be part of a community; from Mr. Enns, Johann learns that to have and hold to principles may require an active response to injustice; from Piotra, Johann learns that revolution may be the only "just" response to injustice. The greater lesson for Johann, however, is that decisions to act have consequences. In his quest for justice, Johann takes on a new persona, that of the Russian peasant. He becomes Ivan (Ivo). Even that has consequences.

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