The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Pyotr Daryalsky, the central character of The Silver Dove, embodies the allegory of a Russia caught between the East and the West. He is a young man, vaguely poetic, of no special talent or notable background, who insinuates himself into the Gugolevo estate. He is not a designing manipulator, but instead a romantic weakling who is glad of an occasion to abandon Katya Gugolevo when he feels the occult attraction of Matryona’s mysterious peasant sexuality.

Daryalsky perhaps represents the Russian intelligentsia, caught in history between the exhausted Western tradition personified in Katya and Gugolevo, and the chaotic but vital movement from the East represented by the Doves with their roots in the life of the common people. His death and the inconclusive ending of the story leave the allegory rather unsatisfactorily suspended.

Neither of the two women, Katya and Matryona, is developed realistically. Katya has no remarkable qualities other than her beauty and serves in the novel primarily as the embodiment of a vague spirituality that contrasts with Matryona’s earthiness. Matryona is not physically attractive, and her appeal lies in her powerful projection of a mysterious life force that seems to be sensed more by Daryalsky than by anyone else.

Kudeyarov is an oddly divided figure, who sets up the relationship with Daryalsky and Matryona but at the same time suffers jealousy when he is successful. The ambivalence of his nature is reflected in his features, for his face appears split into two opposed halves. In his carpenter’s occupation, his hopes for a messiah, and the sharing of bread and wine that introduces the Doves’ rituals there are analogues to the New Testament; these details remain allusions that resist any coherent assimilation into the allegory.

Apollon Apollonovich Ableukhov, the protagonist of...

(The entire section is 772 words.)