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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 363

Voshchev is the main character in the story. He is a machine worker who sits around thinking about the meaning of life.

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Safronov is arguably the most politically active of the workers trying to reach the pit. He is a socialist who “parrots official slogans.” Interestingly, however, he is also critical of others and, to a certain extent, of Soviet ideology. For example, he criticizes workers for putting too much effort into the project.

Prushevsky is an engineer and a supervisor. He represents a member of the intelligentsia, a common character in Russian literature of the time. While he is initially distrusted by the rest of the characters, he is eventually welcomed because of his skills and his ability to enlighten the masses with his knowledge. He attempts suicide at one point in the novel.

Lev Il’ich Pashki is the chairman of the trade union and a government official with a lot of special privileges. He is most often observed complaining about the group's work. Like Prushevsky, he represents a stock character in the Russian novels of the era.

Kozlov is murdered in the collective village along with Safronov. He is portrayed by Platonov as a sexual pervert who “caresses himself at night under the blanket and then has insufficient strength to work during the day.”

Nastya is portrayed as an ideal communist child. She forgets her wealthy mother and is often seen repeating party slogans. Platonov says she has “come to love the Soviet government, and now collects objects for recycling.” The money obtained from recycling activities, explains Thomas Seifrid in his companion to The Foundation Pit, was used to buy tractors. She dies at the end of the novel.

The activist is an overeager party worker who is sent to oversee the project's political activities. He is often seen reading instructions form the party and obsessively complying with every government order.

Bear is an anthropomorphic bear who goes through the village killing its inhabitants.

A more in-depth analysis of the characters in the novel, including etymological analysis and comparisons to characters in other Platonov stories, can be found in A Companion to Andrei Platonov's The Foundation Pit by Thomas Seifrid.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 772


Voshchev (VOH-shchehv), a former machinist, now a laborer in the crew digging a foundation for a multiple housing unit in the Soviet Union in the early 1930’s. At the age of thirty, he lost his job because of a tendency to “stop and think.” Amid the changes in the Soviet Union designed to build the new society after the revolution, he feels the need to understand the “sense of the action” and the enduring meaning of life. He sees suffering everywhere, and his main quality is compassion. He strikes the death blow to the activist as punishment for the activist’s error in believing that he had a monopoly on truth. Voshchev, the truth-seeker, deserts his search when Nastya dies.


Prushevsky (prew-SHEHV -skee), an engineer and intellectual with an “excited” heart. He is only twenty-five years old, but he is “gray” because, as a scientist and rationalist, he regards the world as dead matter, a perception that limits and depresses his imaginative mind. It was his idea to build a great communal building, for which the foundation pit is being excavated by the powerful labor of the crew. The building will eliminate exactly those individual relationships in which the engineer is deficient, those that bind people together. He has the memory of a lost love, a glimpse of a woman whom he never saw again; it provides his only feelings. This man without love can build only the structure that will unmake humankind itself. His lack of feeling leaves him in despair,...

(The entire section contains 1521 words.)

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Critical Essays