(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The Thaw is not a novel in the usual sense but rather a series of character portraits united by the fact that all the people involved in the story live in a small town and lead intertwined lives. Dmitri Koroteyev is an engineer in the local factory and known for his honesty, hard work, and intelligence. The successes of the factory are attributed to him, although the director, Ivan Zhuravliov, officially receives the credit. The town librarian even considers Dmitri an expert on literary matters. The local Party committee values him highly. Dmitri, however, is not happy; the great love of his life died during World War II, and he has now fallen in love with Lena, Ivan’s wife.

Lena is unhappy at home. Her husband thinks only of his factory and its successes, although it is clear that he loves his wife and child. This love, however, is not manifested very often; Lena is more like an article of household furniture than a partner in a marriage sustained by intense feelings of love. Lena has fallen in love with Dmitri, but the two do not declare their love to each other.

Ivan is a typical Soviet factory manager; within his realm he rules despotically, ruining the careers of those who do not agree with him. At the same time he cultivates talented people such as Dmitri, who can bring him praise and perhaps a promotion to a higher position in a location closer to Moscow or Leningrad.

Volodya Pukhov is the son of a retired schoolteacher. Unlike his father, who is...

(The entire section is 616 words.)