Ivan Petrovitch (ee-VAHN peh-TROH-vihch), the narrator, a young author. He has a selfless devotion to his friends; at a time when his own literary career is at a crux and he might be forgiven for indulging his own concerns, he immerses himself in the troubles of everyone around him. He becomes the universal confidant, and his is the common shoulder on which they cry. An orphan, he was taken in by the Ichmenyevs; he and Natasha had been reared together and fallen in love. Shortly before the main action of the novel, he had made a great success with his first novel and had become engaged to Natasha. The main action covers the period of Natasha’s love affair with Alyosha. Ivan never reproaches Natasha for her breach of affection and is only solicitous of her happiness. This novel apparently is his final work, a memoir he is writing from his sickbed, where, undone by the strains of all that happens, he is convinced that he will die.
Natalia “Natasha” Nikolaevna Ichmenyev
Natalia “Natasha” Nikolaevna Ichmenyev (nih-koh-LAH-ehv-nah ihch-MEH-nyehv), Nikolai Sergeyitch’s daughter, who is in love with Alyosha. She is a beautiful young woman, strong in her character, able to keep a calm understanding of herself and her situation, even when under the compulsions of her sometimes violent passions. Once engaged to Ivan, she has now fallen in love with the sincere but haphazard and weak Alyosha. Her love comes, perhaps, from her own excess of strength. She goes to live with him, thus making her social position forfeit and breaking her from her family, although she has no realistic hope of keeping his affections for long. It is only through the actions of the ever-generous Ivan that, having lost Alyosha, she is peacefully reunited with her family. Although she has this much of a happy ending, it is clear that she will live with her thwarted passion for a long time.
Alexei “Alyosha” Pyotrovitch Valkovsky
Alexei “Alyosha” Pyotrovitch Valkovsky (pyoh-
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