Tikhon Ilitch Krasoff
Tikhon Ilitch Krasoff (TIH-khon ihl-YIHCH krah-SOHF), a dram-shop keeper and an entrepreneur. He is bitter because his illegitimate child is killed accidentally and his wife cannot bear him any children. When his crops fail because of bad weather, he turns to drink. Little better than a brute, he is sensually aroused by The Bride, who does not respond but who finally impassively endures his crude seduction. He believes all people are like himself and judges them accordingly.
Rodka (ROHD-kuh), one of the peasants on Tikhon’s estate. He beats his wife cruelly, causing his master to fear him.
The Bride, Rodka’s beautiful wife. She poisons her brutal husband and later becomes Kuzma Krasoff’s housekeeper. Her employer feels sorry for her because of the life she has led. Later, she marries another peasant, but without expectation of any happiness.
Kuzma Ilitch Krasoff
Kuzma Ilitch Krasoff (kooz-MAH), Tikhon’s brother, a poet. He and Tikhon work together as peddlers but eventually quarrel and go their separate ways. After many years, Kuzma returns and becomes overseer of his brother’s estate at Durnovka. Although he is uneducated, he fulfills a lifelong dream by seeing a volume of his poetry published. He regards his life as a failure because he has not devoted it entirely to poetry. He believes Russia’s troubles are all caused by a lack of education.