- Two captains: the main characters of
the novel by Veniamin Kaverin
- Fight and seek, find and don’t give
- Heroes of the novel “Two
- main characters
- Alexander Grigoriev
- Ekaterina Tatarinova
- Nikolai Antonovich Tatarinov
- Heroes of the second plan
- Marya Vasilievna Tatarinova
- Romashov / Camomile
- Ivan Pavlovich Korablev
- Valentin (Valya) Zhukov
- Sasha Grigorieva
- Nina Kapitonovna
- Ivan Ivanovich
- Deciphering letters, love
Two captains: the main characters of the novel by Veniamin Kaverin
Veniamin Kaverin owns, perhaps, one of the key adventure novels, which were read to the
children of the Soviet era. The novel was written in the 1940s, but its popularity and relevance of the novel
continue today. We are talking about a cult thing – the novel “Two Captains”, the main characters of which are
complex and lively images.
“Fight and seek, find and never give up”
These words, as if cut out of Alfred Tennyson’s poem “Ullis” (Odysseus), are the motto
of Kaverin’s novel. The work begins surprisingly: not with one’s own memory, but with someone else’s memory. In the
city of Ensk, located on the periphery of Russia, they found the body of a deceased postman. He had a bag with him,
and in the bag were letters. The protagonist lives on the first pages of the novel with these letters, and
especially the young man remembers the lines associated with polar expeditions, with journeys to the north … And
the novel “Two Captains”, the main characters of which fight, search, find and do not give up, is imbued with the
spirit of adventure. Therefore, the work, like the marine novels of Fenimore Cooper and Rafael Sabatini, occupies
one of the main places on the shelf of young readers.
Since you are with us, we suggest that you familiarize yourself with the
summary of the novel “Two Captains” by Veniamin Kaverin.
It is curious that the lines that the writer made the motto of the novel are
simultaneously taken as an epitaph. The words are engraved on a cross commemorating Robert Falcon Scott’s polar
expedition that never returned home.
Thus, the work of Veniamin Kaverin is dedicated to the theme of searches. If the French
writer Marcel Proust’s characters are looking for lost time, here the characters are busy looking for a lost polar
expedition… and love.
Heroes of the novel “Two Captains”
The classification of the characters in the work is traditional: there are figures in
the foreground and figures of the second plan, the main characters, and, accordingly, the secondary characters.
First, let’s talk about who plays the main role in this literary scene.
The name Alexander in the novel most often appears in an affectionate form – Sanya. Of
course, Sanya is a positive character. The young man, like other heroes of the first plan, has a difficult fate and
many trials. The first test of the young man is physiological in nature – it is dumbness. One day, Sanya’s father is
accused of murder and taken into custody. Little Sanya is the only one who knows the name of the real criminal, but
the boy cannot tell the name, because he cannot speak. In the future, Sanya will be cured of a strange sound
illness, but by that time his father will already died in custody.
Sanya’s mother will marry again, and her stepfather, as befits the plot in works of this
kind, will turn out to be a bad person – tough, callous, vile, and selfish. Later, Sanya also experiences the death
of her mother. He still has Aunt Dasha – the one who read letters to the boy from the bag of the deceased postman.
But the aunt decides that Sanya and her sister should live in an orphanage. Then Sanya and the boy’s close friend
(Peter) flee – first to Moscow, and then to Turkestan. Adventures begin in the capital… Moscow presents friends
not with gifts, but with yet another cruelty of “adult” life.
Fleeing Moscow, Sanya plans to stay with his friend’s uncle for the first time, but
Petya’s relative, as it turned out, was called to the front. Young guys will face thankless work and play hide and
seek with checks in the capital. During one of these checks, Sanya fails to escape, and the boy is sent to a school
for homeless children…
The novel spans many years, and in all the situations described in the novel, Sanya
appears as a noble, purposeful, strong person in spirit and body. When, visiting a friend, through the fault of
Sanya, the lactometer accidentally breaks down – a device for checking the composition of milk – Katya, the young
man’s girlfriend, wants to protect her friend, but Sanya does not let the girl take the blame. In this case, the
hero shows nobility. Alexander is close to the struggle for justice, the young man is also courageous and proud.
However, pride is not characteristic of the character. Sanya sincerely believes in her ideals and follows her
principles. He is loyal and capable of desperate love. Meanwhile, rationality is not alien to the young man: in many
situations, Sanya shows real analytical thinking.
After a quarrel with Katya – already during his youth – Sanya is studying at summer
school and is preparing to fulfill his childhood dream – to find out what happened to the polar expedition, which he
read about as a child, in strange letters half spoiled by seawater.
Katya is Sanya’s friend, whom we have already talked about above. Her parents’ house
becomes a whole “brave new world” for Sani, like Ali Baba’s cave. The apartment seems to the hero a strange world,
full of mysteries and dangers.
Katya is the daughter of Captain Tatarinov. However, Sanya will hear the story of this
captain from a friend not now, but after 4 years. Then the heroes will meet again, and get to know each other. Sanya
will tell Katya that she is going to become a pilot, and Katya will tell him the story of her family.
In 1912, in June, Captain Tatarinov left on an expedition (from St. Petersburg the
captain went to Vladivostok) on the ship “Saint Mary”, but before that he came briefly to Ensk, already familiar to
us, to say goodbye to his relatives. After that, the captain and the expedition disappeared. The captain’s wife
repeatedly turned to the emperor with a request for help in finding her husband, but it was believed that the
captain could die: if so, and Tatarinov died, then only because of his own negligence and negligence in relation to
Once, Sanya again got the opportunity to reread the letters that he had heard from his
aunt in childhood. Suddenly the young man realized: that these letters are about Captain Tatarinov and the
Nikolai Antonovich Tatarinov
In his apartment (and he was the head of the school where Sanya was sent to in Moscow)
the Tatarinov family lived, including Katya, Sanya’s friend. Nikolai was Katya’s cousin’s uncle. The man did not
feel affection and sympathy for the girl’s father, that is, for his cousin, because, firstly, he was in love with
his brother’s wife, Marya Vasilievna, and secondly, he considered him ungrateful.
Sanya considered Nikolai Antonovich as the main “danger” of the Tatarinovs’ apartment.
One day, Nikolai acts meanly: Marya Vasilievna did not feel reciprocity towards him, but the woman, meanwhile, liked
the geography teacher – a certain Korablev. Sometimes he came to visit, and one day he made a marriage proposal.
Marya refused. But, despite this, in the mind of Nikolai Antonovich, an insidious plan still arose – to make sure
that Korablev would no longer come, and for this – to interfere with his work, so that he would be limited in
teaching geography. Sanya told the teacher about everything, and therefore Nikolai kicked the young man out of the
house. Katya, not believing Sanya and his story about the meanness of her uncle takes offense at her friend for a
However, this was not the meanest act of Nikolai Antonovich. The most terrible thing was
that the expedition was lost precisely through his fault – for the most part. Nikolai was responsible for the
equipment of the polar explorers who went on an expedition, and through his fault, this equipment was completely
unusable. Sanya cannot prove it, because the facts were carried away by salt water, blurring the words in the
letters. But the young man remembers what was written there.
Subsequently, Katya becomes Sanya’s lover. Realizing the truth, the girl will leave the
Tatarinovs’ house: at that time, Katya will already be a respected person, a geologist, and the head of the
expedition. Nikolai Antonovich will get his own: the scoundrel will be exposed, and he will be forced to leave,
disgraced, and humiliated.
And although Nikolai Antonovich is rather a minor character, we introduced him into this
description in order to give the characterization integrity. Now, however, let’s move on to the next figures of the
Heroes of the second plan
Marya Vasilievna Tatarinova
We have already begun the story about Marya Vasilievna. The woman is very unhappy:
firstly, Marya loses her husband, secondly, the heroine loses the company of Korablev, who she likes, and thirdly,
she is forced to marry a man she does not love.
As you might guess, Marya Vasilievna becomes the wife of Nikolai Antonovich. All because
the woman felt guilty and that she was allegedly indebted to Nikolai for the care rendered to her, mother and
daughter. But one day Marya Vasilievna learns from Sanya about what a “terrible person” Nikolai Antonovich was. The
young man did not know that the latter had already become the husband of a poor woman.
Marya Vasilievna felt guilty before her husband (captain) and felt like a traitor. In
the end, the heroine cannot stand it and commits suicide: the woman was poisoned, and the doctors could not help her
in time and save her.
Here the reader is again faced with the drama in the relationship between Sanya and
Katya: at her mother’s funeral, Katya does not want to talk to Sanya, because Nikolai managed to convince the girl
that it was Sanya who was to blame for the death of Marya Vasilievna, and the letters were about a completely
In the end, Nikolai Antonovich will be exposed anyway. Sanya will do this, but only
after the end of the war.
Romashov / Camomile
We encounter this hero when, while reading a book, we come to the story of Korablev.
After all, Grigoriev told the young man about what he heard from Nikolai Tatarinov, and then considered Korablev a
traitor who reported everything to Tatarinov.
But the traitor in this situation was not Korablev at all, but Romashov – nicknamed
Chamomile is an exclusively and completely negative hero. Vile, cowardly,
capable only of low and vile deeds. From childhood, Chamomile is interested in his own benefit, and for her
sake, the hero can even go to blackmail friends and relatives.
The worst thing is that one day Sanya finds out: Romashka entered the Tatarinovs’ house,
got into trust and, it seems, a little more, and marries Katya. The girl did not immediately understand that
Chamomile was only familiar with betrayal and that he himself was a two-faced and morally dirty person. It is
Chamomile who will be Nikolai’s accomplice in denigrating the name of Sanya Grigoriev when Sanya wants to present
materials about the fate of the captain of the missing expedition …
However, falling in love with Katya will play a cruel joke on Romashka: he will offer
Sana services in exposing Nikolai’s guilt. The fee is Sanya’s refusal to want to be with Katya. However, Grigoriev
turned out to be nobler: Sanya talks about Romashka’s proposal to Nikolai Antonovich. However, he could no longer
play against a former accomplice.
When Sanya and Katya’s trip to the north to search for the missing expedition fails, and
Sanya goes to the front – to the war with Spain, Katya will meet her old “friend” again. Chamomile will convince the
girl that he was saving Sanya, who was injured, but Grigoriev died tragically. However, now the girl does not
believe it. Romashka, indeed, lied: Romashov did not save Alexander at all, but betrayed him, taking away his
things. As a result, justice will prevail, and Chamomile will be condemned.
Ivan Pavlovich Korablev
We go back again to study in more detail the already familiar personality of the
geography teacher. Often Ivan takes precisely the position of the victim because Korablev is unfairly tortured at
school – out of love for Marya Vasilievna, Sanya accuses him of betraying his trust …
In fact, Korablev embodies such traits as kindness, sincerity, naivety
and simplicity, honesty, openness, and justice. The teacher loves his job, and work, worry about the
children he teaches.
Ivan Pavlovich will play an important role in the relationship between Sanya and Katya:
Korablev will help lovers many times.
Valentin (Valya) Zhukov
As we know, the theme of friendship occupies a particularly important place in the novel
“Two Captains”, the main characters of the work constantly find themselves in situations where friendship and
betrayal collide with each other in an unequal struggle. According to the laws of the genre, at first, it will seem
to the reader that evil is winning, but then good will surely prevail.
So, Valya Zhukov is Comrade Sani. At first, Sanya was also friends with Petya (Peter
Skovorodnikov). Together, the boys fled to the capital, but then their paths diverged. Petya managed to escape
during the inspection, and subsequently, Grigoriev found out that Petya was still in Moscow and was engaged in art.
Also, Alexandra (Sasha) Grigorieva, Sanya’s sister, who eventually became Petya’s wife, studied at the Academy of
Valya Zhukov and Romashka are comrades who appeared with Sanya while studying at a
school for homeless children. Valya is the antipode of Chamomile. Valya is smart, honest, fair, responsible, and
reliable, a wonderful and loyal friend. Zhukov becomes the husband of Katya’s best friend, Kira, and the young man
is also waiting for a career as a major scientist.
Sister Sani is an artist and the wife of his friend Petya. Events are developing, and
later Sana will be able to publish an article about the polar expedition and about Captain Tatarinov … Sasha by
that time will live in Moscow, and raise his son. But then the girl will exude the disease. It is not possible to
recover: Sasha will die.
For Grigoriev, the old woman was a treasure in Ali Baba’s cave, because she always
treated him with goodies. Nina Kapitonovna introduces Sanya into the circle of the Tatarinov family: once, Sanya
helped a woman carry heavy bags … Nina is Marya Vasilievna’s mother.
This is a doctor who was able to cure Sanya of dumbness. But this was not the only
meeting of our characters. Further, fate pushes them together at a time when Sanya managed to achieve that he was
given an assignment to the North. Here, in the Arctic Territory, Ivan Ivanovich gives Sanya notes from the navigator
of the St. Mary ship. The navigator, as it turned out, died in 1914, but from those letters, Sanya learned about the
fate that befell the missing captain.
Deciphering letters, love
A young man, carried away by the idea of finding polar explorers, studies at the
Leningrad summer school, reading and sorting out difficult notes of letters. The diligent young man learns that the
captain, Katya’s father, let his comrades go so that they would look for new land and master it. The captain
himself, Katya’s father, did not leave the ship. Mary’s Land is the location that Sanya’s investigation points to,
and there may be traces of a lost expedition.
Grigoriev will achieve great success in this endeavor. Later, the desire to find traces
of the expedition again brings the young man to Katya. However, the expedition will not take place this
The reader will encounter the characters again when 5 years have passed for them: Sanya
returns, having managed to escape after the war with Spain, but Katya is no longer in Moscow…
We see how much fate throws the heroes. Now Sanya is forced to go on a personal
“expedition” – in search of his missing love. Grigoriev is looking for a wife in Moscow, then he goes to Yaroslavl,
and then to Novosibirsk … During his travels, Sana manages – by pure chance (due to the need to make an emergency
landing) – to find the remains of the ship “Saint Mary”, the body of the deceased captain and his notes. In
Polyarny, a town not far from this place, Sanya also meets Katya.
Brief description of the novel “Two Captains”
Alexander witnesses a murder at the early age of nine. But the boy is mute and does not
notify anyone about what happened. The boy’s father is arrested. Sister and Alexander were brought to their
grandmother, where they meet a doctor who helps the boy cure his dumbness. Suddenly, Alexander’s mother dies, and
the brother and sister are left, orphans. Sanya did not want to go to the orphanage, so the boy and his friend Petya
waved to Odessa, where the uncle’s friend lives, but when the guys arrived, the uncle was not in the house, so the
relative went to the front.
This is 1917, the guys were left alone on the street without food and water. Suddenly
the boys are caught, but only Sanya comes across, and Petya managed to escape. Alexander is sent to school to study,
where he achieves science and in the future began to dream of becoming a pilot, in order to later find the missing
team of Captain Tatarinov. Sanya decides to marry Tatarinov’s daughter Ekaterina, and the girl agrees, but this
brother is opposed by the girl’s relative Nikolai Antonovich.
A rival, a former friend of Romashov, appears on Alexander’s path. The friend turned out
to be a vile person, he told Nikolai Antonovich about the meetings of his beloved couple. After he learned this
news, Nikolai was upset and sent Katya to Ensk. There was a fight between Sanya and Romashov, after which Alexander
got ready and left after his beloved Katya. In the city of Ensk, the guy met Aunt Dasha and an already adult sister.
While sorting through old letters from his aunt, Sanya found one old letter that dealt with the Tatarinov family,
the captain, who disappeared in the letter, asked not to communicate with Nikolai Antonovich, since this man was a
coward and the main culprit in the death of the expedition. Sanya told this to the widow. But Marya Vasilievna could
not stand such grief and took her own life.
Soon Alexander left for the North to find the missing expedition of Tatarinov. A brave
man grew out of the boy thanks to the geography teacher Korablev. A year later, Alexander and Catherine got married.
Periodically, they resume the search for the expedition, but such searches are constantly hindered. Georgiev during
the war in Spain intersects with Romashov and almost dies because of Romashov’s meanness. When the war ended, Sanya
and Grigoriev completed the search for Tatarinov’s expedition, but this happened thanks to Ivan Ivanovich. Sanya
found the captain’s body next to the diaries. Former friend Alexander was punished for his crimes. In the work “Two
Captains”, the main attention is paid to the search for truth, one’s own moral position, as well as the meaning of
life. The main characters of the work opened up new horizons.