There is very little information revealed about the novel's first narrator. He is a young man who has been in the Caucasus for a year. The novel does not specifically state his occupation, but the route on which he travels is the Military Road. Beyond the amount of time he has been in the Caucasus and his disdain for Ossettes and other natives, nothing else about him is mentioned. His fascination with Maxim Maximych and Pechorin's adventures hint that he might be seeking adventures of his own.
An officer who is about 50 years old. He has been in the Caucasus for a number of years. He takes great pride in having served in the Russian army during General Alexei Petrovich Yermolov's time. Maxim Maximych lives with Pechorin for a year. He recounts to the first narrator a particular incident involving Pechorin.
Gregory Alexandrovich Pechorin
He is a young, Russian officer serving time in the Caucasus. At 25 years of age, he feels as if his youth has already disappeared and that he has already experienced all that society and life have to offer. He is a man of many contradictions. He employs his handsome features, his charms, and his unusual honesty to manipulate and deceive others. He seeks to rid himself of boredom by creating chaos in others' lives. His actions lead to kidnappings, murders, and adulterous affairs.
He is the 15-year-old son of a Circassian chief, whose tribe lives near the fort where Pechorin and Maxim Maximych are stationed. He has a weakness for money and a disregard for others' property. He barters his sister, Bela, for Kazbich's horse.
She is Azamat's sister and the chief's daughter. Her age falls between 15 and 16. She has dark eyes like Karagyoz, Kazbich's horse. Her fate and Karagyoz' fate are intertwined. Pechorin promises to help Azamat kidnap Karagyoz if Azamat brings him Bela. Bela eventually accepts her captivity and falls in love with Pechorin. This result is in large part due to Pechorin's manipulation. She also develops a friendship with Maxim Maximych.
He is a tribesman whom Maxim Maximych describes as strong, fearsome, and stubborn. His weapons and his horse intimidate spectators. When he sells his rams at the fort, he does not lower his prices. He attends the wedding for the chief's eldest daughter and spends a great deal of time admiring Bela, the chief's youngest daughter. Azamat tries to barter with him first: Bela for Karagyoz. His refusal angers Azamat and leads Azamat to make the transaction with Pechorin instead.
Kazbich's renowned horse. He is loyal, obedient, and fast. His name means "Black Eye," a suitable name since he has beautiful black eyes reminiscent of Bela's eyes. Azamat's desperation to possess the horse leads to a series of painful events.
Azamat and Bela's father. Azamat exploits the chief's temporary absence to kidnap Bela. The chief dies while searching for Bela. Kazbich murders him, believing that he played a role in Azamat's kidnapping of Karagyoz.
He treats Bela in her final hours. His medicines do little to alleviate Bela's pain.
A well-dressed individual, who is disrespectful towards both the narrator and Maxim Maximych. It is through a series of questions that Maxim Maximych discovers the servant's relation to Pechorin and urges the servant to mention his name to Pechorin. The servant does so reluctantly.
He acts as Pechorin's servant during Pechorin's stay in Taman. He is portrayed through Pechorin's eyes. Since Pechorin holds a lot of negative prejudices towards natives of the Caucasus, the unnamed Cossack is depicted in an unpleasant light. He appears cowardly, useless, and lazy. Perchorin tells him to stay on guard, but Pechorin comes back to the hut and finds him asleep.
Pechorin estimates his age to be 14. He lives with the old woman who owns the house in which Pechorin stays while in Taman. After studying his face, Pechorin finds him to be a suspicious character. The boy does not change Pechorin's mind with his actions. Pechorin's curiosity and fear compel him to follow the boy, who sneaks to the beach in the middle of the night, navigating the dangerous path with little-to-no effort, to converse with strange characters. Furthermore, the boy creates an air of mystery around his origin by shifting his accents between Ukranian and Russian and telling Pechorin that he is an orphan. Pechorin believes the boy to be part of a smuggling operation.
She is the owner of the house that Pechorin inhabits while in Taman. Pechorin finds her to be as duplicitous and mysterious as the blind boy. She pretends to be deaf when Pechorin confronts her about the events he witnesses. When Pechorin verbally assaults the blind boy, she gives up the act of being deaf and chastises Pechorin.
Pechorin first sees her after following the blind boy to the beach. He gets a closer look at her when he encounters her the next day. Her singing, her restlessness, and her proximity to the sea leads him to think of her as an undine, a water nymph. When Pechorin tells her that he will go the authorities and reveal what he witnessed on the beach the previous day, she lures him onto a boat and tries to drown him. She is in many ways the strongest adversary that Pechorin encounters in the novel. The young woman's relationship to the old woman is not quite clear. She might be the old woman's daughter, but that is open to interpretation.
He is a mysterious man whom Pechorin witnesses coming onto shore from the sea. Pechorin believes that this man, the young woman, the blind boy, and the old woman are part of a smuggling enterprise. In the end, the young woman and the mysterious man escape; Pechorin avoids mentioning them to the authorities in order to conceal the fact that he had been conned by a blind boy and nearly drowned by a young woman.
He is 21 years old and has been in the Russian army for a year. He talks a great deal and flaunts a private's greatcoat, which propagates false assumptions about his status in the military. He and Pechorin have a complicated relationship. They dislike each other, but they spend a great deal of time in each other's company. Grushnitsky even confides in Pechorin. He confesses his feelings for Mary to Pechorin. Grushnitsky's association with Pechorin leads to his downfall: Pechorin steals the object of his affection, and then kills him in a duel.
She is Princess Ligovskoy's young daughter. She is beautiful and naïve. She has a lot of admirers, but they bore her. She initially finds Grushnitsky interesting, but he eventually bores her as well. She tries to decipher Pechorin, but fails. He, on the other hand, knows her thoughts too well; he uses this advantage to manipulate her and create chaos not only in her life, but in the lives of many other characters.
She is 45 years old. Her manners are informal for a woman with her particular title. She takes great pride in her daughter's purity and academic background. She is in Pyatigorsk to treat her rheumatism. Although she is privy to some information about Princess Mary's relationship with Pechorin, there is also a lot about it that evades her. Pechorin's noble lineage blinds her to his faults: she does not see his corrupt nature and even offers her blessings for marriage betwen Pechorin and Princess Mary.
He is a Russian doctor in Pyatigorsk. Although he dresses well, one leg is longer than the other, similarly to Byron, and his face is too large for his body. He also has a short, thin, and weak frame. Pechorin sees him as one of those people whose face becomes attractive as one gets to know them. Werner and Pechorin have similar mindsets. They both have a strong understanding of human nature. Pechorin confides in the doctor, and the doctor responds by helping Pechorin execute his schemes.
She is a woman from Pechorin's past. He loved her, but she married another man. Pechorin meets her again during his time in Pyatigorsk. She is still beautiful, but a chronic fever has taken its toll on her features. She is with her second husband in Pyatigorsk; she knows Pechorin's true nature, but she still decides to have an affair with Pechorin and to continue the relationship they had long ago. The novel gives no information as to what happened to Vera's first husband. It merely states that she married again for the welfare of her son -- not for love.
Sergei Vasilievich G---v
He is Vera's husband. He suffers from rheumatism, and he walks with a limp. He is part of Princess Ligovskoy's inner circle. He eventually discovers Vera's affair with Pechorin and takes her far away from him. Vera is not able to say goodbye to Pechorin in person. She does it through a letter that she manages to hide away from her husband.
He is a man whose sense of honor is skewed. At a ball, his female companion complains that Princess Mary has slighted her so he orchestrates an incident to humiliate Princess Mary. He turns against Pechorin when Pechorin thwarts his efforts to embarrass the young Princess. He later joins forces with Grushnitsky, and his distorted sense of honor contributes to Grushnitsky's death.
He is a lieutenant in the Russian army. He has a tall frame, a dark complexion, black hair, and black eyes. His pensive demeanor and obsession with gambling leads him to stake his life to make a point: he gambles with his life to answer whether predestination exists or not. Vulich aims a pistol at his head. Pechorin sees the mark of death on Vulich's face before Vulich shoots the gun, but Vulich does not die by the gun. The gun misfires. The other soldiers believe the gun to be empty, but when Vulich shoots it a second time, this time aimed at a wall, a bullet dashes out. Vulich's actions and their results give the soldiers compelling proof for the existence of predestination. Vulich, ironically, dies a half an hour later when a violent drunk slices him open.
He is a Cossack who slices a pig and Vulich in half due to the influence of chikhir, an alcoholic beverage. After committing these crimes, he shutters himself in a cottage and refuses to come out. He is eventually arrested due to Pechorin's wit.
She is mentioned very briefly in the last part of the novel. Pechorin shares lodgings with her and her father, an old Cossack sergeant. Pechorin admires her beauty, and she seems to have fallen for his charms. The novel mentions no details beyond this.
She is one of the spectators outside of the cottage. She is an old woman distressed by her son's circumstances. When an officer urges her to convince her son to come out of the cottage, she remains silent and shakes her head.
A Hero of Our Time Questions and Answers
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