Alexander (Sasha) Dvanov
Alexander (Sasha) Dvanov (DVAH-nov), an orphan and Red Army soldier. Having been orphaned early and thrown out of his foster parents’ home, Sasha becomes a mendicant and later joins the Bolsheviks. As a beggar, he is a failure, because he is not brave enough to beg. He embraces Communism instinctively, at first because everyone else is joining the movement and it is frightening to be left alone again. Later, he learns more about Communism, but his understanding of it remains on a rudimentary level, as he seeks understanding among the simplest and best of people. the nebulousness of his political views is best exemplified by his participation in building, together with a number of similar souls, a city of Chevengur that corresponds to their idealistic notion of brotherly love and comradeship. In the end, he fades away into the foggy future of the city, without any assurance that it would ever work, let alone fulfill his dream of a better life for everyone.
Zakhar Pavlovich (zah-KHAR PAHV-loh-vihch), Sasha’s guardian, a railroad mechanic. A progenitor of Sasha’s dreamlike attitude toward life, Zakhar is also a dreamer but of a different kind. He is inordinately gifted as a practical man and a mechanic; he is able to make and fix almost anything. He makes things for others, never for himself, and he does so out of curiosity about what makes things what they are and how they work. He lives alone and never needs people, considering machines to be people, and is attracted to unusual projects such as building a wooden clock powered by Earth’s rotation. He is able to converse with anyone in a neighborly way. This combination of friendliness and aloofness draws him to the revolution; without subscribing to its political aims, he believes, again...
(The entire section is 785 words.)