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Dr. Zhivago | Study Guide

Boris Pasternak

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Dr. Zhivago | Character Analysis


Yuri Zhivago

Yuri Andreevich Zhivago's mother died when he was 10, and his estranged father committed suicide two years later. Yuri was partially raised by Nikolai Nikolaevich before going to live with the Gromeko family. A dedicated writer and an ardent lover of nature, Yuri pursues a career in medicine. A firm believer in the value of independent thought, he scorns those who espouse ideas they don't really believe. He tries to keep his opinions to himself, but his unusual behavior and ideas are closely watched by the Bolshevik Party. His life is further complicated by his love affair with Lara and his devotion to Tonya and their family. Yuri Zhivago is also known as Yuri Andreevich, Yura, and Yurochka.

Lara Antipova

Larissa Fyodorovna Antipova, maiden name Guichard, moved to Moscow as a child after the death of her father. As a teenager, she is seduced by Komarovsky, a much older man who looks after her family. Lara is disgusted at herself for engaging in such a relationship, which contributes to her lifelong self-esteem problem. Unlike Yuri, she grew up in poverty and understands the plight of the working class. Maternal to her core, Lara becomes a nurse and takes care of everyone around her, even if they don't share the same beliefs. As lovers she and Yuri connect on an intangible, spiritual level, but she remains steadfastly devoted to her husband, Pasha. Lara Antipova is also known as Larissa Fyodorovna, Larusha, and Larochka.

Pasha Antipov

Pavel Pavlovich Antipov, more commonly known as Pasha, is the son of a railway worker/revolutionary activist. He grows up without his father, who is in exile. He falls in love with Lara as a teenager and completely devotes himself to her happiness until he finds out, on their wedding night, that he is not her first lover. He emerges from that conversation a changed man, determined to right the wrongs done to Lara. His vengeance takes the form of his alter ego, Strelnikov, a non-party military leader working for the Bolsheviks. Pasha Antipov is also known as Pavlushka, Pashenka, Pashka, Patulya, Patulechka, "Stepanida," and "Fair Maiden."

Tonya Gromeko

Tonya Alexandrova Gromeko grew up alongside Yuri and fulfills her mother's last wish by marrying him. Educated as a lawyer, she supports Yuri's medical, writing, and military careers while taking care of their home in Moscow and, later, Varykino. Tonya is immediately suspicious of Yuri's relationship with Lara but does not ask him for details. She eventually determines that Yuri will never love her as much as she loves him and grants him his freedom in a letter after their forced separation. Tonya Gromeko is also known as Antonia Alexandrovna, Tonka, and Tonechka.

Viktor Komarovsky

Viktor Ippolitovich Komarovsky is a lawyer from Moscow. He is the cause of many unhappy moments in the story, including Yuri's father's death and the loss of Lara's innocence. Wealthy, powerful, cold-blooded, and self-assured, his only weakness is Lara, whom he protects long after their relationship is over.

Evgraf Zhivago

Evgraf Zhivago remains a mystery throughout Doctor Zhivago. A few years younger than his half-brother Yuri, he pops up whenever Yuri is in particular need of help. He is caring, kind, and generous, and serves as Yuri's savior more than once.

Questions for Characters

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