Dimka, a seventeen-year-old who has recently been graduated from high school. He represents the generation of Russian youth born during World War II, who have little firsthand knowledge of the hardships that their parents experienced. Having completed his secondary education, he is faced with the decision of whether to continue his education or to seek a job. Even though he loves his parents and admires his older brother, Victor, a space scientist, Dimka leaves home and Moscow, mainly because he wants to make his own decisions for the first time in his life. This rebelliousness stems from the fact that young people in the Soviet Union are constantly told what to do instead of being allowed to make their own decisions. Even Dimka’s successful brother cannot escape the criticism of being too pliant in acquiescing to the system. Dimka is not rebellious solely for the sake of asserting his independence, as shown at the end of the novel, when he returns home after hearing about his brother’s fatal accident. Through this act, he confirms his integrity and innate sense of responsibility. This attitude bodes well for the young Soviet generation, showing that its individuals can think and act for themselves after decades of submissiveness.
Yurka, Dimka’s classmate, who joins him on the postgraduation journey and becomes a “kilometer eater” instead of meekly accepting the will of his elders. With his feet placed firmly on the ground, Yurka shows promise in the sports field and hopes to become a basketball star. He is willing to forgo the best chance of achieving that...
(The entire section is 665 words.)