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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Pelagueya Nilovna Vlasova

Widowed after the death of her abusive husband, Michael Vlasov, Pelagueya leads a desperate life in an impoverished village. She struggles to raise and provide for her son, Pavel, and worries about his future constantly. She longs for him to have a better life than her husband. She is a protective and nervous woman who initially dislikes the revolutionary literature and people her son encounters, warning him to keep his wits about him and be careful. Over time, she sees how Pavel and his friends find some freedom and happiness in their seditious ideas, and she opens her ideas to their values and beliefs. Pelagueya shows herself to be headstrong and fearless, as she allows Pavel’s group to assemble at her house, despite the questions and criticisms of the other villagers. Pelagueya helps her son indirectly, striving to support his cause and make a difference. Eventually, she risks everything by directly confronting the oppressive police and declaring her true beliefs.

Pavel Vlasov

Pavel is a young Russian man struggling to reconcile his desire for freedom and self-determinism with the reality of his factory job and its back-breaking demands. Slowly, he builds close friendships with others at the factory, who share seditious literature with him and indoctrinate him into the revolutionary cause. As Pavel reads the literature, discusses it with his peers, and considers the material for himself, he realizes that these values reaffirm his convictions and desires for justice. He finds that living a dangerous but full life while being true to oneself is more fulfilling than living a predictable life as a dutiful factory worker. Despite his perilous circumstances, Pavel finds joy in his political efforts and close friends. They print leaflets, march openly in parades, serve time in jail, and are eventually exiled to Siberia for their speech against the government. Throughout Mother, Pavel matures from a young, idealistic man to a bold, inspirational leader.


Andrey is one of Pavel’s closest friends and acts as his right-hand man. Although he takes his duties seriously, he is also a fun and easy-going man whom Pelagueya loves dearly. Alongside Pavel, Andrey is one of the most forthright and bold dissidents. He eventually comes to live with the mother-son duo and, in doing so, helps open the older woman’s eyes to the socialist movement. Indeed, Andrey is a man of action, even going so far as to take a life when he encounters a spy he views as a threat. 


Sashenka is yet another of Pavel’s revolutionary friends. However, their relationship is slightly different, as the commanding young woman hides a deep well of affection for Pavel, though her love remains unrequited. Her forceful nature is a useful tool in the group’s effort, and she is a proud member of the cause despite being a member of a wealthy family. 


Natasha is something of a foil to the bossy Sashenka; she is a quiet soul with a wavering voice and frail figure. Her slight form belies great strength, as she abandoned her wealthy home and comfortable lifestyle to advocate for worker’s rights. 


An outspoken and deeply-committed young man, Vyesovshchikov is a surprising addition to Pavel’s organization. He is known as the village misanthrope, as he regularly hermits himself away from others and avoids human contact. Despite his distaste for others, Vyesovshchikov feels strongly about Marxism and eagerly supports Pavel’s efforts to spread Socialist values throughout Nizhni-Novgorod and the surrounding region. 


Rybin is a grizzled peasant who, despite his age, seeks out Pavel for advice. He spent much of his life working in the...

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factory and has experienced first-hand the trials of life as a working-class Russian villager. Although his demeanor is gruff, Rybin is a compassionate man who feels motivated to resolve the struggle of his peers. Eventually, he embraces Socialist values, going so far as to spread the message to a group of peasants by himself. However, he is beaten for his efforts and charged with inciting revolution. 

Nikolay and Sofya Ivanovich

The Ivanovich siblings are also strong supporters of the socialist movement and caring friends for Pelagueya. They even take her to live with them when Pavel and many friends are imprisoned. Although they are initially safe from persecution, they are eventually arrested and charged with treason.