Boris Davidovich (dah-VIH-doh-vihch), a Jew and a Russian revolutionary. Boris has been imbued with a revolutionary zeal from his early youth, fighting against the czarist regime and for the Bolsheviks. As a result, a portrait of a classical revolutionary emerges: brave, resolute, bold, cool, resourceful, loyal to the cause, and blind to questioning of his ideology. Although it is not quite clear whether he joins the revolution out of a sense of justice or in quest of action or adventure, he participates in it without any reservations, which leads to a firmness of character that remains throughout his life. When he falls out of grace and is tortured and threatened with death, he refuses to sign a confession that would implicate others; instead, he prefers to be shot as a traitor rather than to be hanged as a common thief. Through his death in a labor camp during an escape attempt, he epitomizes a revolutionary who dies unjustly at the hands of his comrades. He also resembles the numerous revolutionaries throughout the world who, convinced of the rightness of their cause, are nevertheless stymied in their idealistic expectations and sacrificed to the exigencies of the revolution.
A. L. Chelyustnikov
A. L. Chelyustnikov (cheh-LYEWST-nih-kov), a Russian revolutionary, another example of a loyal servant of the revolution, yet for entirely different reasons. A boaster and a womanizer, expert at playing cards, he seems to have become a revolutionary out of opportunism or inertia. He is a typical organization man, even to the point of agreeing to be a fall guy to serve the cause. It is not surprising that he survives the ups and downs of the revolutionary struggle, even though he is not without scars or close calls.
Fedukin (feh-DUH-kihn), a secret police investigator. A revolutionary of yet another sort, Fedukin serves the revolution and the state out of a need to do evil and hurt people to satisfy his sadistic impulses. A tall, pockmarked, and unbending interrogator, of modest education but of some literary talent, he derives the greatest pleasure when he investigates and tortures his former comrades, guilty or innocent. His motto is, “Even a stone would talk if you broke its teeth,” referring to those victims who have passed through his hands. He believes that it is better to destroy one person’s truth than to...
(The entire section is 1024 words.)