Boris Alikhanov (ah-lih-
Lance Corporal “Fidel” Petrov, Alikhanov’s best friend. He is called Fidel because at a political lesson once, when asked to name a member of the Politburo, he said, “Fidel Castro.” It is he who is told to escort Alikhanov to the stockade. On the way, Alikhanov simply walks off into the snow. Petrov threatens to shoot him, but Alikhanov keeps walking. Finally, Petrov begins to weep and tells Alikhanov that he can do what he wants, whereupon Alikhanov returns to his escort, accepts his punishment, and saves Petrov from a similar fate.
Boris Kuptsov, a zek who refuses to work, an extreme individualist. One day, in front of Alikhanov, Kuptsov chops off his own hand with an ax. Alikhanov sees something of himself in Kuptsov.
Captain Pavel Romanovich Egorov (
Katya, Captain Egorov’s wife. A graduate student sick of intellectuals, she found Egorov’s honesty and bluntness refreshing. She is ashamed of herself for not being able to tolerate the freezing filth of the officers’ quarters, but she cannot accustom herself to life in the far north.
Captain Tokar, an old veteran of the camps who loves only one living thing, his dog Brooch. The dog is killed, cooked, and eaten by the zeks one night at a party, to which Alikhanov, ambling along through “the zone,” is invited. When Alikhanov learns the truth about the “cutlets” that the zeks are eating, he honorably informs Captain Tokar of the fate of his dog. Later, when Alikhanov is sent to the stockade, Captain Tokar cannot bring himself to rescind the order.