Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Alexei Vasilyevich Turbin

Alexei Vasilyevich Turbin (ah-lehk-SAY vah-SIH-lyeh-vihch TEWR-bihn), an artillery colonel in the Russian army. He is serving a Ukrainian hetman in Kiev and collaborates with the Germans against other Ukrainian nationalists and the Bolsheviks. Alexei understands the precariousness of his position, as he is neither a dedicated nationalist nor a friend of the Germans; he only wants to do what he is trained for: to serve as an officer with honor and dignity. When his honor and dignity are threatened, he refuses to continue fighting for a cause that has lost its rationale, preferring to pay for his mistake with his life—not before, however, he absolves everyone serving under him of any obligation to fight to the last along with him. Alexei is a gentleman officer and an idealist, contrary to the official Soviet view of any opponents of the Bolsheviks as morally bankrupt hirelings.

Nikolai Turbin

Nikolai Turbin (nih-koh-LAY), his brother, a cadet. Nikolai worships his older brother and, like him, has a high sense of duty. These two sentiments compel him to refuse his brother’s command to leave before the final attack, during which he is badly crippled. In this sense, he is an extension of Alexei, with one difference: Alexei is adamantly anti-Bolshevik, whereas Nikolai’s reaction to the coming of the Bolsheviks is not as clear.

Yelena Vasilyevna Talberg

Yelena Vasilyevna Talberg (yeh-LEH-nah vah-SIH-lyehv-nah

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