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Written by Claire Cornwall
Kira is the central character in the novel and as such the orchestrator of the lives of the other characters. She has grown up in a well-to-do, hard working family with solid values and ethics, an appreciation for hard work and a respect for the importance of education. She is strong-willed and not easily controlled, passionate and inspired by her goals and dreams. She has a strong work ethic as supported by the magnitude of her efforts to secure a Labor Book, an important stepping stone in her road towards the goal she has set for herself of becoming a successful engineer. Kira is educated enough to understand that hard work is rewarded and is therefore deeply opposed to the redistribution of bourgeois wealth to those who did nothing to earn it. She us politically aware and has well-considered opinions.
Kira is attracted on a cerebral level to those with well considered ideologies even if they differ from her own. She is also fiercely loyal, putting Leo's well-being above her own and putting herself into a situation that disturbs her just to help find his medical treatment. She is intelligent and wily, and able to methodically play the long game when it comes to achieving a goal. She is also surprisingly sensitive and introspective, wondering if her duplicity in secretly living with Leo was the cause if Andrei's death. Ultimately Kira is a tragic figure whose ability to try again and again to make a bid for freedom undeterred by previous failure is what eventually leads to her death.
Andrei is a bookish, friendly young man who falls in love with Kira despite their political differences. He is idealistic but not as intelligent as she is, blinded by the rhetoric of the communist party that he has pledged his loyalty to. He does not come from a bourgeois background and therefore has no compunction when it comes to redistributing the possessions and wealth of others. He is also idealistic about love, believing in it as passionately as his politics. Because he sees through rosé-colored spectacles he is profoundly devastated when the two things he believes in without question ultimately both reveal themselves to be flawed and let him down. This is more than he can bear and he ends his own life.
Despite a promising moral foundation Leo reveals himself to be a weak character who takes the easiest road possible regardless of who it may hurt. He has no appreciation of loyalty and is not troubled by his decision to leave Kira despite all that she has done for him. Leo is also an example of how constant hardship can change a person's character until they do not even recognize themselves. Leo is very frustrated by his inability to affect the system and reacts to this by changing himself.
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