(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed

Nikolai Apollonovich Ableukhov

Nikolai Apollonovich Ableukhov (nih-koh-LAY ah-poh-LOH-noh-vihch ah-bleh-UH-khov), a student and dissident. Nikolai’s flaxen hair is so white that it looks more appropriate for an infant than for a college student. Indeed, Nikolai is still a child in many ways. He is rebellious against his father but still reliant on him for room and board. He is comically impetuous in his romantic life, but his impetuosity stems more from uncertainty than from passion. In fact, uncertainty, a wavering sense of conviction and right action, is the essential trait of his character. The novel centers on his decision whether to kill his father with the bomb delivered by his revolutionary friends. The complexity and indecisiveness of his character are further symbolized by the oriental clothing he favors in the morning, which he exchanges for more traditional (and Western) garb when he goes out of the house. Nikolai is, indeed, caught between two heritages: the oriental (Tatar and Mongol) and the White Russian (European). He cannot hope to understand his place in the world until he understands himself.

Apollon Ableukhov

Apollon Ableukhov (ah-poh-LOHN), Nikolai’s father, a high-ranking Russian bureaucrat. Apollon is small in physical stature but is impeccably...

(The entire section is 585 words.)