Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Georgij Mikhailych Vorotyntsev

Georgij Mikhailych Vorotyntsev (geh-OHR-gee mih-KHAH-lihch voh-roh-TIHN-tsehv), a dedicated army career officer. A stout, clean-shaven, stoic, and trustworthy man of action, he is educated and perceptive but not one of the intelligentsia. He is a patriot and a good commander, admired by his soldiers, but his understanding of the people’s wartime desperation leads him to call for a truce. He leaves the front to visit his family and friends in the rear. The decadence and chaos of life in Moscow and St. Petersburg lead him to a growing skepticism about the future. He is sufficiently open-minded to consider all arguments about Russia’s fate, but his loyalty to traditional authority prevents him from joining any of the revolutionary factions.


Alina (ah-LIH-nah), Vorotyntsev’s wife. She concentrates on becoming a concert pianist while separated from her husband by the war. She perceives the effects of the war from a personal, apolitical point of view. Her romantic attitudes and her cultural pretensions annoy Georgij. Although she worries about her beauty and connections, beneath the frivolous exterior she grieves for the wounded and attempts to rally other artists to assist them. In the end, her cultural instincts and empathy for others’ emotional trauma prove to be great virtues.

Olda Orestovna

Olda Orestovna (oh-reh-STOV-nah), also called Professor Andozerskaja (an-doh-ZEHR-skah-yah), the lover and would-be mentor of Vorotyntsev. A scholar of...

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Oktiabr' Shestnadtsatogo The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Following the classical Russian tradition, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s chief protagonist, Georgii Vorotyntsev, is a good man, but he is an antihero rather than a positive hero because of his flaws and weaknesses and ultimate inability to control events. Also in the Russian tradition, however, the hero’s weaknesses can be interpreted as the obverse of his moral goodness and potential for growth. All the major characters are put through a forced growth of spirit and personality. After unquestioningly accepting the rather strange Professor Andozerskaya’s sudden passion for him, Vorotyntsev blissfully assumes that he now has two adoring women granted to him by a generous fate: his uncomplaining wife, Alina, and the exciting Professoress.

Vorotyntsev is forced to metamorphose when he finds that his wife is shattered by this, his first infidelity after ten years of marriage. In helping Alina to put her mind back together, Vorotyntsev is further distracted from playing his role in history. (That a part in the revolution is still ahead of him, though, is hinted at by his name, which is from the root word meaning “turn.”)

Katyona, who comes closest to being one of the novel’s positive heroines, regards the marriage bond as being supremely important in her life. Yet her perception does not relegate her to an inferior status: Solzhenitsyn’s male characters are also at their most positive and human when they appreciate the same bond....

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Oktiabr' Shestnadtsatogo Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Burg, David, and George Feifer. Solzhenitsyn, 1972.

Kodjak, Andrej. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1978.

Krasnov, Vladislav. Solzhenitsyn and Dostoevsky: A Study in the Polyphonic Novel, 1980.

Moody, Christopher. Solzhenitsyn, 1976.

Scammell, Michael. Solzhenitsyn: A Biography, 1984.