Study Guide

Breaking Stalin's Nose Chapter 12

By Eugene Yelchin

Chapter 12

  • When Sasha gets to school, tons of kids are out on the playground having a snowball fight.
  • Apparently, Sasha is never picked last on these teams, because he is super good at marksmanship. This is courtesy of his "war-preparedness" class. Yikes! Is that one on your school schedule?
  • Sasha joins in, and is soon rudely rammed into a snowdrift by a kid who appears to be a playground bully: Vovka Sobakin.
  • Vovka calls Sasha "Amerikanetz" (12.1), which is a rude slur meant to insult Sasha because his mother was, it turns out, American.
  • Sasha and Vovka are frenemies now (well, more on the enemy side, really), but they used to be besties.
  • After this altercation, Vovka shouts out: "Death to the enemy of the people!" (12.2).
  • This frightens Sasha, because he wonders if Vovka knows about his dad's arrest the night before.
  • Turns out that Vovka wasn't even talking about Sasha at all, and instead has his sights set on someone called Four-Eyes.
  • A group of kids are lined up in front of him, firing-squad style, and throw a bunch of snowballs at the poor kid.
  • Four-Eyes is a kid named Borka Finkelstein, and he's the only Jewish kid at the school (12.3). His parents were arrested earlier in the year.
  • The kids call him Four-Eyes because (wait for it!) he wears glasses. Yeah, real clever, guys. Four-Eyes also reads a lot (so that apparently makes him kind of nerdy).
  • Vovka tries to get Sasha to throw a snowball at Four-Eyes. He initially refuses, and someone yells out that he's a traitor.
  • Four-Eyes takes this opportunity to throw his own snowball. Even though he usually has bad aim (since he's almost blind), he throws and scores a direct hit on Sasha.
  • Sasha launches a counterattack that breaks Four-Eyes' glasses. One sharp piece cuts his cheek.