Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Yakov’s cell. Faded stucco prison building in a commercial section of Kiev, near the brickyard where Yakov works. Most of the novel takes place in Yakov’s prison cell. He spends almost three years here, where he is placed in solitary confinement and tortured. Although imprisoned and tortured, Yakov refuses to confess to a crime he did not commit. He willingly continues to be the scapegoat for the Jewish people, as he comes to understand that if he had not been accused, another Jew would have been. Despite horrendous suffering while imprisoned, he learns to appreciate his culture and fight for his people.
*Kiev (KEE-ev). Russian city (now part of Ukraine) situated on the Dnipro River in what was the Ukrainian province of Russia during the earliest period in which the novel is set; Kiev is now a city in independent Ukraine. Yakov journeys to Kiev from the shtetl. Although little of the action of the novel occurs in Kiev, this broader setting is important because it provides historical accuracy to events that occur to Yakov, a fictional character based on Mendel Beilis, who was arrested in Kiev in 1911 for a crime similar to the one Yakov is accused of committing. The novel portrays a specific historical time in which Russia attempted to extinguish its Jewish population. The setting also accurately demonstrates some of the unscrupulous tactics Russian czars used for political gain prior to the Russian Revolution in 1917.
*Lukianovsky. District of Kiev that Jews are not allowed to enter. The brickyard where Yakov works for Nikolai Maximovitch Lebedev is located in Lukianovsky. Yakov at first declines the offer to work but Nikolai persuades him to accept and offers him a place to stay in the brickyard. Yakov is unable to decline Nikolai’s offer without admitting that he is a Jew, a fact he has hidden from Nikolai, who is an admitted anti-Semitic. Living and working in Lukianovsky plagues Yakov with fear, worry, and guilt. Although Yakov feels like a traitor, he soothes his conscience by determining to make some money and leave. The body of the boy Yakov is accused of murdering is found in a cave near the brickyard in Lukianovsky.