Study Guide

Raven a.k.a. Dmitri Ravinoff in Snow Crash

By Neal Stephenson

Raven a.k.a. Dmitri Ravinoff

One Angry Aleut

When Raven meets Y.T. and introduces himself as an Aleut, she hasn't heard of that ethnic group, and Raven tells her in no uncertain terms why this is: "'That's because we've been f***ed over […] worse than any other people in history'" (47.15). With that kind of perspective, it sort of makes sense that Raven has this huge grudge against, well, practically everyone. He feels oh so very wronged by the world.

One of the main reasons for Raven's hate-on is that his dad was nuked by the United States… twice. The first time was in a POW camp outside Nagasaki toward the end of World War II where, strangely enough, Hiro's dad was also a prisoner; then the Americans nuked Aleut territory, Amchitka, in 1972. So Raven has made it his life mission to nuke America in revenge. Or just carry out Rife's orders and burn out the brains of every major American hacker. Close enough.

When Hiro discusses his shared history with Raven, he asks if Raven hasn't already gotten plenty of revenge, to which Raven responds by saying: "'There's no such thing as enough'" (66.35). That sure clues us into how Raven feels. No doubt Hiro's dad was also screwed by global events like WWII, but Hiro didn't turn into a psychopathic killer. So Raven's particular way of handling things clues us into just how individual a person's response to big events can be—and for his part, his insatiable his thirst for vengeance is.

Seriously, Don't Mess With Him

Raven is so hardcore that we'd need to invent a new word to describe precisely how hardcore he is. The guy took over a manned Russian nuclear submarine with nothing more than a piece of glass. Read that sentence again. Yep.

As Hiro observes: "Whether or not Raven intended to take on a bunch of Crips and Enforcers singlehandedly tonight, he didn't even bother to pack a gun" (19.87). No wonder Raven is Rife's hired killer: this dude is seriously deadly and efficient. We can't imagine anything that would ever intimidate Raven, and even Uncle Enzo with a straight razor can't take Raven down; the narrative implies that Raven makes a getaway at the end even without his legs working. Hardcore.

Surely Raven didn't pop out of the womb waving a glass knife, so we have to assume that he had the dedication necessary in order train to become such a heavyweight. The level of Raven's current killing skills tells us a lot about how hard he worked to become that way. This is, in a perverse way, a nice message to come out of the dystopian mess of a world we see in Snow Crash: No matter how badly your family gets screwed, you can find a way to take down the people that did it. Woohoo.

A Fighter and a Lover

But it's not all gore and bloodshed in Raven's world. He is, in his mind at least, a sex machine. He explains to Y.T. on their date on the Raft that while working on oil rigs, he "'learned how to make love to a woman—which is the only thing I do better than harpooning'" (50.19). Now there's a pick-up line for you…

Based on Y.T.'s reaction when she and Raven hop into bed together—she "comes as soon as he goes into her" (52.50)—he probably does have some moves between the sheets. And although we wouldn't peg him for the forgive-and-forget type, he seems to admire Y.T.'s chutzpah. After her dentata puts him to sleep, he doesn't go into a killing rage upon waking like she predicted, and instead, when he sees her next, "He grins and waves" (62.6). Maybe he respects a chick who can take him down? Either way—phew.

Raven's life philosophy also sounds kind of peaceful when you hear him describe it:

"I saw that the Western, American lifestyle had come this close to killing me […] And I saw that we can only live through faith, living a simple lifestyle. No booze. No television. None of that stuff." (50.23-25)

This all sounds pretty nice, though apparently the whole "don't murder people" thing doesn't seem to have made it into Raven's personal philosophy. Hey, pobody's nerfect.