Pyotr Vasilievich Lashkov
Pyotr Vasilievich Lashkov (pyohtr vah-SIH-leh-vihch LASH-kov), an elderly Communist Party functionary who becomes a Christian. In the winter of his life, Pyotr, a self-righteous autocrat and a faithful Communist, realizes that he is isolated from his relatives and from other people, without any meaningful relationship, and facing bleak emptiness. Deciding to renew his neglected family ties, after all of his six children have abandoned him, he visits one close relative after another, only to discover that most of them have not fared much better. His daughter Antonina fills the void in Pyotr’s later life with her religious zeal and with renewed faith in the future, symbolized by her newborn son. Pyotr belatedly realizes that being an honest but stern Communist, without a genuine rapport with fellow human beings, leads to alienation and general resentment by others. With the help of several people (Antonina, Gupak, and his two grandsons), he enriches his empty existence through love and caring for other people. He is finally able to reconcile his Communist beliefs with an active and loving religion. The final words of the novel symbolize his spiritual rebirth: “He went, and he knew. He knew, and he believed.”
Andrei Lashkov, his brother, a warden in the Kurakin forest. Although driven by the same urge as all the Lash-kovs—to bring honor and justice into life and to do what is best for everybody—Andrei chooses a different path. Instead of wielding political power, he opts for forest service, for only in closeness to...
(The entire section is 684 words.)