In Sweet Darusya, many of the townspeople believed Darusya to be "foolish." She was believed to be eccentric in her behavior, unaware of her surroundings, and unable to speak (which Darusya disagreed with, believing that she simply didn't want to speak). She's also described as evidently suffering from a variety of physical ailments, such as frequent severe headaches and an apparent allergy of some kind to candy (which evidently brought on even more severe headaches).

People referred to her as "Sweet" Darusya though, rather than calling her foolish. Was this a common euphemism in rural Ukraine?

1 Answer 1


I waited for someone else to answer this question, but it seems that I have to.

No, the meaning of "sweet" itself is pretty much similar to what is in English (sweetheart, darling, or simply dear).

However, the whole story of Darusya — including her headaches and inability (or non-willingness) to talk — is directly related to sweets, which is revealed by the end of the novel.

Careful, spoiler ahead:

As a child, Darusya has unwillingly betrayed her own parents to an NKVD (KGB) occupant.
Earlier, her parents have donated food to Ukrainian partisans who fought against the Russian/Sovjet occupation.
When the Russians discovered the support, they sent an NKVD officer for investigation.
During the interrogation, Darusya's parents have denied such support by claiming that the partisans took food by force.
But the occupant has bribed Darusya with a lollipop, and she told him everything she saw.
Which, in turn, caused further repressions in the village and made Matronka hang herself.
After Darusya saw her mother dead,

quoting the original text,

Since then Darusya has lost her voice.

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