Jussi Toivola (JUHS-see toy-VOH-lah), also called Juha and Janne, the shy, inept, simpleminded, and disreputable hero. More a victim than a master of his circumstances, Jussi is swept along through his life and changes names as frequently as he changes dwellings. A Finnish peasant, he is born of a minor landholder and a third wife. His childhood is uneventful, broken only by his father’s cruelty and games on Pig Hill. He is still a youth when his father dies. He and his mother go to live with her brother, a well-to-do landholder. After his mother’s death, he herds cattle until he is thrown out by his uncle for his part in a practical joke. As a young man, he takes up logging for seven years under a peculiar but kindly boss. Later, he becomes a farmhand, marries a serving girl, and sets up as a crofter with an acre of his own. He has five children and achieves marginal prosperity. His horse then dies, his eldest son virtually kills a younger brother and moves away, his wife dies of a mysterious ailment, and his eldest daughter leaves home and drowns herself soon afterward. Jussi, now a poor old man, becomes known as a rabble-rouser. Taking part in a Socialist revolution, he is left to guard a landowner who is killed during the looting. When the Socialists are defeated, he is arrested, judged, and shot. His wastrel life ends in a common grave with other revolutionaries.
Rina Toivola, Jussi’s wife, a loose, easygoing farm girl. She sleeps across from him when he comes to work as a farmhand at Pirjola. One evening, she lets him sleep with her because she needs a husband for her illegitimate child. She is a...
(The entire section is 721 words.)