The Poem

(Great Characters in Literature)


Vanka, one of the revolutionaries marching through the streets of Petrograd. At the time the marchers are depicted in the poem, he is seen only in the distance, prancing with Katka, the girlfriend of another revolutionary, Petrukha. By eloping with Katka, he betrays not only his friend but also the revolutionary cause. His former comrades accuse him of defecting to the enemy and becoming a bourgeois, a soldier in the enemy camp, and an enemy to the Red revolutionaries. He clearly possesses, in his speech, qualities of a seducer that others lack. His army coat symbolizes his betrayal in comparison with the ragtag and even prison garb of his former comrades. He has somehow gained superiority over them, as illustrated by his miraculous escape from Petka’s avenging bullet.


Katka, or Katya, a pretty girl involved with the only two named revolutionaries, Vanka and Petka. By abandoning Petka in favor of a more dashing and richer Vanka, she shows that she is interested primarily in pleasures and a better life. She dances and frolics in the evening snow and flashes Vanka a pearly smile, indicating that the two of them complement each other. She shows no remorse for betraying Petka because she is not generally faithful, as indicated by the knife scars on her neck and under her breasts received during another, most likely equally faithless, affair. She owns lacy attire and has plenty of money, received for her...

(The entire section is 539 words.)