Study Guide

Breaking Stalin's Nose Summary

By Eugene Yelchin

Breaking Stalin's Nose Summary

Sasha Zaichik is a ten-year-old boy living in the Soviet Union sometime in the 1950s. His dad is the Best Communist Ever (and works for the Soviet secret police), and Sasha himself is about to be accepted into the Young Soviet Pioneers tomorrow. His dad even gives him the super luxe scarlet scarf as a gift.

In other words, this kiddo seems to be well on his way to achieving the Soviet Dream until everything goes really wrong for Sasha. In a series of truly unfortunate events, Sasha's dad gets arrested for being an enemy of the people; Sasha beans Four-Eyes Finkelstein with a snowball and breaks his glasses; and to top it all off, he wrecks a statue of Joseph Stalin by breaking off its nose. This last event falls firmly in the realm of epic fail in Sasha's world, and if he gets caught he, too, will be declared an enemy of the people and a terrorist to boot.

Did we forget to mention that Sasha is also now homeless and a bit of an orphan, since his dad is now in the clink indefinitely? Check and check.

After Four-Eyes Finkelstein falsely confesses to snapping off Stalin's nose, and Vovka Sobakin (a very troubled boy indeed, and Sasha's best frenemy) blames Nina Petrovna for the crime, things for Sasha start to look up. Not for long, though.

Sasha realizes his dad's not coming back, and that he's just one step away from being thrown into a Soviet orphanage, when he's given an offer he just can't refuse from the man who arrested his father: either agree to be a junior Secret Policeman of sorts and report on his fellow students' un-communist activities, or be thrown in the basement of the same prison his dad is currently locked up in.

Turns out, though, Sasha can refuse, and he does precisely that. He decides being a Pioneer isn't all it's cracked up to be, and he'd rather try to visit his dad in prison. So, he goes there and waits for his chance. It's an open ending, that's for sure, but here's hoping Sasha reunites with his poor papa and they live (as) happily ever after (as they can).

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