The Siege: Who is WHo

 

Anna Mikhailovna Levin Protagonist, Kolya’s mother, Vera’s and Mikhail’s father, nursery assistant at the local nursery school and works under Elizaveta Antonova, falls into a relationship with Andrei, her childhood friend, befriends Maria Petrovna, her father’s lover later in life, works hard at the dacha and saves her own and her brother’s life, very practical and hopeful, strong and aware of her own feelings and emotions and limitations, determined and persevering. She is 18 when her mother dies and 23 when the blockade happens.
Andrei A dedicated doctor, talks medical science all the time, Romantic and falls in love with Anna. He comes from Siberia and stays with the Levins during the worst part of their life. He is very romantic and has great respect for Anna’s father and his work. One day on his way to hospital he almost gets lost in the snow storm. He is much loved by Kolya too.
Maria Petrovna An actress, fall in love with her long time friend Mikhail after her gets married, tried to befriend Vera, her lover’s wife and fails, befriends her lover’s daughter Anna, lives with them during the siege and dies before it is all over. We are introduced to her through Anna’s memories of her childhood and then when Anna really goes to her dacha to draw her portrait as directed by her father. It is also interesting that Marina forces Anna to draw the portrait of her father as he lies dead. She was pregnant from her relationship with Mikhail before Anna was born, it was a boy but she opted for abortion. She was seeing a doctor who fell for her and she told Mikhail that she had had an abortion and he was upset and wrote some poems of grief and Vera found the poems insincere. She is not a supporter of Stalin and lives in her past glory. She is suspected to be a rebel and it is true. She later sort of sacrificed her life for Anna’s family by saving two bottles of jam for her and she couldn’t use them. A very interesting character, very much like Andrei and when Andrei hears that she sat near Mikhail’s dead body for days, he asks Anna whether she also would do the same. Anna refuses first and then yields.
Mikhail Ilyich Levin A passionate writer, he speaks good German and French apart from Russian. The time he spent in two European countries as early as 1912 has enriched him and also made him a suspect. The government can always label him as man with suspicious foreign connections. He writes stories and lives on his translation and editing work. The writers’ committee has put a ban on his works. They found that his work is not as optimistic as Stalin expects it to be. It is full of gloom and doom. So, he keeps on writing and keeps them to himself. He is a lover of Pushkin’s poems and can recite most of them. When he dies Marina places a book in his hands and it is a book of poems by Pushkin. Marina sits near his dead body for days and when she dies, Anna and Andrei place their dead bodies together on the same bed and they are buried close together in a mass grave. They could never unite like this while they were alive. Anna says that Marina loved him but he only loved the fact that Marina loved him. He was very devoted to his wife and admired Marina for her artistic qualities and he is happy to see those qualities inherited by his daughter. His second child Kolya is very affectionate towards him as if he is his grandfather and not his father but we don’t see him showing much affection to his son Kolya. He dies after getting wounded in bombing. Andrei brings him home and the whole family takes care of him till he dies. His body is left like that for more than ten days since there is not one strong enough to drag it to the cemetery.

 

 

Kolya He is only five or six and is unhealthy in several ways. He considers his sister like his mother and his father like his grandfather. His mother died at his birth. He is a typical child with his interest in war games, stubborn nature, hunger, insensitivity to the harsh realities of life. Anna says he is a typical Levin because of his studious nature. It is by pure luck and the care shown by the adults around him that he survives the blockade. When he is hungry, there are three things that Anna is able to provide him with during the blockade; a root of liquorice, her own fingers or a piece of his old leather school bag which was already used for soup a few days before!
Vera Vera is a radiologist and she is totally aware of health issues but she relents to her husband’s need for a full fledged family and opts to get pregnant and dies delivering a child. Probably, when Mikhail heard that the foetus Marina aborted was male, it would have promoted Vera to try her luck at giving him a male child. A very amiable person, scholarly, unrelenting in personal matters, not so much of an artist, Vera is always upset about Marina and refuses to have anything to do with her. Paradoxically, it is Marina who gets to be with Mikhail on his eternal sleep. Anna has some sweet memories of her two-week life with her mother at the dacha during a vacation.
Olya A student Vera was very fond of. After Vera’s death she lost her job and was suspected as a rebel and faced much hardship in life.
Elizaveta Antonova Anna’s boss at the childcare centre; a typical bureaucrat who is not at all creative or sensitive and ironically she is in charge of very small children; she is a stern administrator as she throws her weight around; being a turncoat she manages to get to Moscow when the blockade gets worse and lives there safe and secure
General Hunger and General Winter Though these are made to sound like the fantasy names of two kinds of hardships, later we find that the word general is used literally. Hunger and Winter affects everyone in general and they prove to be lacking in several humane qualities. They are the characters in a story written by Mikhail and it becomes a prophesy in his own life.
Darya Alexandrovna She is Anna’s neighbour and she is the first one to inform Anna of the coming catastrophe. She demonstrates how people are going to behave from then onwards by refusing to giver  Anna  jar of honey she had promised.
Vasya Sokolov Vasya Sokolov is one of the Sokolovs in Leningrad. He played building a dam with Anna when he was young. They had built it across a stream fed by melting snow. Anna’s hair grip falls into the dam and it disappears as their tiny dam breaks letting the water flow through. Later in life as Vasya is driving a government truck loaded with food for the starving village, his truck breaks down and all he needs is a hair grip to lengthen a circuit. He can’t find it and he dies in the snow with a small girl wail about a lost hair grip still ringing in  his ears.
Katya She is a little 15 year old absent minded girl who dies in the trenches dug by the volunteers when a wall collapses on them. Being slow in movement, she is not able to move out of harm’s way. She was digging with Anna for more than a week and used to be very nice to her. They wrap her body in a some rag and throw it on the roadside.
Katinka This is another young woman who is digging with Anna.
Evgenia Evgenia another young woman used to be very optimistic about herself. She become a prostitute later on and comes to Anna’s help whenever she has some trouble in the market place or in the street.
Pavlov He is in charge of the food supply or the rations during the blockade. His position is far from being a covetable one in that he is the one to take decisions about how much they are allowed to eat each day. He is the one has to prevent people from dying and at the same time hope that more people die to leave their rations for the living.
Zina She is Anna’s neighbour and her husband who works at a factory in Leningrad has convinced her that the Levins are rebels and that they should have nothing to do with them. When her baby is weak, Anna decides to share Kolya’s ration with her though Mariana objects to this. A few days later she brings her baby who has been dead for three days to Anna and asks her to draw a portrait of her baby.
Fedya Feyda, once against the Levins, is later moved by Anna’s selfish act of giving Kolya’s ration of sugar to his and Zina’s baby later patches up with her. He contacts kidney disease but he survives the blockade more dead than alive. His wife adores him.

 

 

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One thought on “The Siege: Who is WHo

  1. I would like to point out some errors:

    1. Andrei and Anna are not childhood friends. Andrei is Mikhail’s friend, and they met when Mikhail served in the war before the siege of Leningrad.

    2. After Vera, Mikhail’s wife, died, Mikhail and Marina were never romantically involved. In fact, they broke off their affair before Vera even found out about it, even though she did eventually. Marina was still in love with Mikhail, but he then saw her as only a friend.

    3. Mikhail and Marina met after Mikhail and Vera were married.

    4. Marina was never proclaimed a rebel – it was said that she had been interrogated, and due to the social unrest people were wary of being seen with her.

    5. Vasya is not moving supplies to a village, but to the city of Leningrad itself.

    6. Katya died not because she was slow physically. She died as she was unaware of her surroundings and did not notice the falling wall.

    7. Katya is wrapped in a curtain.

    8. Anna gave Zina a cup of sugar that could have been given to Kolya. It was not a part of his ration.

    9. Fedya is moved by Anna’s SELFLESS act of donating sugar. The wrong word was used.

    10. Andrei suspects that Fedya suffered from a kidney disease, but he is not sure, and the fact is never confirmed.

    Thank you for making these notes! They were super helpful, save for the few mistakes I found.

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