Anna “Netochka” Nezvanova
Anna “Netochka” Nezvanova (NEH-toch-kah neh-ZVAH-noh-vah), the narrator and protagonist, a young girl. Her character—introspective, naturally calm, and sedentary—is revealed through her reactions to the often unlucky circumstances in which chance places her. Netochka is a good-hearted girl; she has less of the moral duplicity than one would expect from a Dostoevski protagonist. She does find herself repeatedly in irresolvable conflicts of loyalty. As a young girl (she is eight or nine when the story begins), she lives with her mother and stepfather in an unhappy family. As her stepfather’s character deteriorates, he enlists Netochka’s help in stealing money from his wife, leaving Netochka to face her mother’s ever more terrible anger alone. Both parents die as the family dissolves, and Netochka falls seriously ill. The wealthy Prince Khy takes Netochka to heart and takes her to live with his family. There, she finds herself living in the luxury of which she and her stepfather had dreamed, but she finds herself again at the center of family conflict. The prince’s wife and mother-in-law object to Netochka’s low origins. She is tolerated as long as she and Princess Katya, the prince’s willful and energetic daughter, are at odds. When Netochka manages to win Katya’s friendship, and thus wins for herself some happiness in this sterile home, she is condemned as a bad influence. She is then sent to live with Aleksandra Mikhailovna, the prince’s married daughter and Katya’s half sister. Aleksandra and Netochka are temperamentally suited...
(The entire section is 680 words.)