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Characters

Meet the Cast

Ivan Denisovich Shukhov

Tip of the IcebergWe spend an entire day with Shukhov. Or more accurately, we spend an entire day through Shukhov; everything is filtered through him and we spend a lot of the narrative inside his...

Captain Buynovsky

Captain Buynovsky is a lot like Captain von Trapp from The Sound of Music. No, really. They're both naval captains; they're both super strict and lack sense of humor; they both boss others around;...

Fetyukov

Since we only have one day with Gang 104, it makes sense that a lot of them are largely defined by a descriptive title or nickname that sort of sums them up. Fetyukov is "the scrounger." He's a lot...

Tsezar Markovich

Tsezar is one of the most important people in the book in terms of Shukhov. In a way, Tsezar is sort of the idiot rich guy that Shukhov is cleverly conning. Thanks to Tsezar's ineptitude, or badnes...

Alyoshka the Baptist

Like Fetyukov, Alyoshka has a title that describes him: the Baptist. Alyoshka is defined almost completely by his religious beliefs. He's one of the flattest characters in the book. He even borders...

Senka Klevshin

Senka might just be the most interesting person in Gang 104. His backstory reads like some sort of epic action/adventure tale – deafened in battle during World War II, captured by Nazis, esca...

Vasily Fyodorich Tyurin

Tyurin is like the father of Gang 104. He's the authority figure who is often absent, off working and taking care of business for his "kids" essentially. But he's also one of the group. He works al...

Pavlo

Pavlo might win the award for coolest dude in Gang 104. He's young and still pretty enthusiastic; he works hard; he's very fair; he's still moral and honorable. He might be a bit too moral though,...

The Two Estonians

The two Estonians are like two peas in a pod, and other clichés which indicate they're like twins. We'll refrain from calling them Ashley and Mary Kate though. Actually, the two Estonians are...

Gopchik

Gopchik is a bit like Shukhov's mini-me. The youngest member of Gang 104, only sixteen, he's is clever and crafty, much like Shukhov himself. We don't see Gopchik that often, but when we do he's us...

Kildigs

Kildigs acts as Shukhov's counterpart for the bulk of the novel. Kildigs is a fellow bricklayer and a fellow skilled laborer, and he works alongside Shukhov throughout the work day. The two men are...

Lieutenant Volkovoy

Volkovoy is downright evil. He goes around whipping people, popping out from behind corners and scaring them, and enforcing stupid rules. Given that this book is set in a prison camp, you might exp...

Der

Der has what might be the most fitting name in the whole book. It just sounds like the name of some sort of big, hulking, dumb bully. Or an ogre. He's like Shrek's mean cousin or something.Actually...

Shukhov's Wife

Since the entire book takes place in the prison camp, we only hear about Shukhov's wife second-hand, from Shukhov himself. Unlike a lot of people's families, Shukhov's has not abandoned him. But th...

Nikolai Semyonich Kolya Vdovushkin

If Vdovushkin were anywhere other than the camp, he'd definitely be sued for malpractice. See, this "medical orderly," isn't a medical orderly at all. He's a wannabe poet. And if he weren't in the...

Stepan Grigorich

Stepan Grigorich never actually appears in the book, but we do hear some about him from Shukhov and his fake medical orderly, Vdovushkin. Grigorich is either a really mean, or a really stupid, doct...

Limpy

Limpy actually has a limp, like his name implies. It's how he landed his cushy gig as a mess orderly. Well, cushy in terms of perks like extra food. His actual job duties suck. But first, a descrip...

Kuzyomin

We only hear about Kuzyomin once at the very beginning of the book, but he basically provides us with Rules For Living in the Camp. He warned Shukhov back in the day about signs of doom for a zek:...

The Moldavian

The Moldavian is the unfortunate zek who fell asleep at the worksite, held up hundreds of people, got beat up for his tardiness, and then got tossed into the hole as punishment. He's had one bad da...

Pantleyev

We never actually see Pantleyev because he plays hooky. Pantleyev seems universally hated in Gang 104, and with good reason: he is an informant for the guards and he gets off work in order to rat-o...

Prisoner Kh-123

Though we never learn this prisoner's name, he has a very interesting and thematically important conversation with Tsezar about film, of course. Tsezar pretty much has no other conversation topics....

Prisoner Yu-81

Yu-81 is the number of a legendary prisoner that Shukhov observes over dinner. In many ways, Yu-81 is a picture of Shukhov's possible future, if he stays in the camp. Unlike most of the prisoners,...

The Wardens

We see a variety of wardens in the book, and most of them have rather mean nicknames. These are men with power, and they often abuse it. But they are also prisoners as well, so most of them are cor...

The Old Artist

The Old Artist is pretty much what his name says, so no false advertising there. He appears only briefly at the beginning of the book, and he is the man who paints a new number on Shukhov's jerkin...

The Latvian in Hut 7

This guy is the camp's resident tobacco salesman, and he cuts Shukhov a fair deal for some merchandise at the end of the day, after they haggle a bit for form's sake. The Latvian and his scene with...
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