Study Guide

Breaking Stalin's Nose Chapter 1

By Eugene Yelchin

Chapter 1

  • Our narrator's Dad is a "Hero and a Communist," and the narrator desperately wants to be like his old man. See, that's an easier feat to achieve than the ultimate dream, which is to become like Comrade Stalin himself.
  • Comrade who? Stalin is the great Leader and Teacher of the Soviet people (1.2). In cased you missed it, the capital letters should clue you in that He Is a Very Important Guy.
  • We get the impression that the narrator must be the little boy in the drawing (1.F1). He's sitting at a table writing, and listening to the radio, like ya do when it's the 1950s and iPods are a few decades down the road.
  • The radio is blaring out to its listeners special tips on how to be better communists and how to follow Stalin. Patriotic music is the only thing on the playlist.
  • Our as yet unnamed narrator writes a letter to Joseph Stalin, thanking him for his wonderful childhood and for the privilege of living in the greatest country in the world: the USSR.
  • See, this kid's biggest dream is to become part of some group called "the Young Soviet Pioneers." Apparently, these guys "fight for the cause of the Communist Party and Comrade Stalin" (1.5), which makes the Pioneers sound like a far-leftist militant version of the Boy Scouts. Or Campfire Boys and Girls. Or something.
  • It seems that our boy will become a Young Soviet Pioneer the next day at a ceremony to be held at his school. Well, dream achieved, then, right?
  • Becoming a Pioneer involves exercising, training in Communist values, and being always on the lookout for capitalist infiltrators. You've got to really hate those pesky capitalist infiltrators.
  • Finally, we get a name for our narrator: Sasha Zaichik. He attends Moscow Elementary School #37.
  • Writing this letter gets Sasha so excited that he takes a practice march around his room, before heading off to wait for his Dad.