Taras Bulba (TAH-ruhs BOOL-bah), a sturdy old Cossack warrior and chieftain, restless, fierce, and stubborn. He hates luxury, loves the simple Cossack life, and regards himself as a defender of the Russian Orthodox faith. Elected as leader for the second attack on Dubno, Taras fights bravely; he narrowly avoids capture when the Poles win the battle. Unable to visit the captured Ostap in prison, Taras does witness Ostap’s torture and boldly calls out to him before Ostap dies. Disappearing in the crowd watching the torture and execution of the captured Cossacks, Taras escapes from Warsaw and leads many raids of destruction, pillage, and death against the Poles. Finally captured by a superior Polish force, he is burned to death, but not before he has seen the heroic escape of many of his men to whom he has called out defiantly to continue the fight against injustice. Taras is presented as a great folk hero whose epic exploits are reminiscent of those of Homer’s warriors.
Ostap (ohs-TAHP), Taras’ older son, a former student. At first rebellious against studies, he later ranks high. Loyal to his comrades, he loves war and carousing but is more often a follower than a leader in the academy. As a warrior, however, he shows the cool calculation and tactical ingenuity that seem to predict for him a chieftaincy. In the second battle of Dubno, he is captured and taken to Warsaw,...
(The entire section is 625 words.)