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litelle209 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Peter and Pavel are two Russian immigrants  that live close to the Shimmerdas and the Burdens. The text hints that Pavel has a past in Russia that seemingly haunts him. They seem to be good people in search of a second chance-a typical motif in the fiction at the time. Pavel dies in the course of the narrative, but the reader learns that he has a guilty conscience because he literally threw someone to the wolves  to save himself ( see link below). This forces him to leave for America. Pavel dies, supposedly from working to hard. Perhaps this can be read that he had a somewhat intellectual past and was not used to hard work? Left without his friend, Peter must sell the little homestead he owned with Pavel.