The narrator, a Russian novelist, literary theorist, and soldier modeled on the author. In the narrative of his experiences during critical periods of Russian history, the narrator reveals his character. The image of a highly intelligent, sensitive, and humane artist bitter with grief at the painful events of war and revolution in his country emerges by means of artistic devices that depend on detachment, irony, and distancing. The narrator shows his reaction to the ingrained hatred, inhumanity, and stupidity he observes by means of telling detail that is kaleidoscopic, vivid, dramatic, and terrifying in its routineness. The ability to see steadily and to represent objectively the awful reality of a country torn apart are major elements of his character. The digressions and disruptions in his narrative suggest his broad view of human understanding and the connectedness of widely separated moments of reality. The man behind the detached observer is revealed in the course of the deliberately fragmented narrative. Numberless other characters, quickly sketched, make brief appearances in the account of these turbulent years, but no other character emerges in depth. Major officers in the White Army and the provisional government, ordinary soldiers, literary figures such as Maxim Gorky, and leaders and members of ancient hostile ethnic groups in Persia all appear in momentary vividness in the narrative, then are gone.