The narrator, also known as Nymphea alba and Those Who Came, a schizophrenic adolescent. His mental illness is diagnosed as hereditary, though his family situation probably has aggravated it. He has spent some time in a mental hospital but is later enrolled at a special school for students unable to meet the demands of a regular education. The peculiarities of his affliction most obvious in his narrative are his complete lack of a sense of time and his inability to delineate completely the characters of others. The novel is, for the most part, a dialogue between the two selves of his personality. One self yearns to become an engineer, whereas the other is interested in entomology.
The narrator’s father
The narrator’s father, the town’s chief prosecutor, a large, impatient man who perhaps aggravates, by his lack of tolerance, his son’s affliction. He cannot stand disorder or drunkenness and is forever suspicious of freeloaders, including musicians and sponging in-laws. He owns a dacha in the suburbs of Moscow where much of the action takes place.
The narrator’s mother
The narrator’s mother, a housewife who has not worked since her mentally disturbed son first went off to school. She constantly tries to reconcile the son and his father. Good-hearted, though lacking in imagination, she is the only character in the novel whose physical attributes are described. She...
(The entire section is 561 words.)