The autobiographical novel of Nikolai Ostrovsky is divided into two parts, each of which contains nine chapters: childhood, adolescence and adolescence; then mature years and illness.
For the unworthy act of the cook’s son, Pavka Korchagin is being expelled from the school, and he falls into “people”. “The boy looked into the very depths of life, to its bottom, into the well, and musty mildew, the swampy damp smelled of him, greedy for everything new, unknown.” When the stunning news of the Tsar was thrown into a whirlwind in his small town, Pavel had no time to think about studying, he worked hard and boyish, without thinking, hiding his weapons in spite of the ban on the part of the bosses of the suddenly surreptitious nemetchina. When the province is flooded with an avalanche of Petlyura bands, he witnesses many Jewish pogroms that ended in brutal murders.
Anger and indignation often embrace a young brave man, and he can not help the sailor Zhuhra, a friend of his brother Artem, who worked at the depot. The sailor had a good conversation with Pavel: “You, Pavlusha, have everything to be a good fighter for the work, only you are very young and you have a very weak idea of the class struggle.” I’ll tell you, brother, about the real road because I know: I will not help you. “Now the whole world has started a fire, the slaves have risen and the old life has to be brought to the bottom. But for this we need a brave brave mother, not a mamma, but a strong people who before the fight does not climb into the cracks, like a cockroach, but beats without mercy. ” Able to fight, strong and muscular Pavka Korchagin rescues from under the convoy Zhuhrai, for which he himself was denied by the Petlyuraites. Pavke was not familiar with the fear of the man in the street who defended his belongings, but ordinary human fear seized him with an icy hand, especially when he heard from his escort: “Why carry it, pano chorus, bullet in the back, and over.” Pavka felt frightened. However, Pavke manages to escape, and he hides from the familiar girl Tony, who is in love. Unfortunately, she is an intellectual from the “rich class”: the daughter of a forester.
After the first baptism of fire in the battles of the Civil War, Pavel returns to the city where the Komsomol organization was established, and becomes its active member. Trying to drag into this organization, Tonya fails. The girl is ready to obey him, but not to the end. Too loose she comes to the first Komsomol meeting, and it’s hard for her to see among the faded gymnasts and blouses. The cheap individualism of Tony becomes intolerable to Paul. The need for a break was clear to both of them… Pavel’s irreconcilability leads him to the Cheka, especially in the province headed by Zhuhrai. However, the Chekist work is very destructive to Pavel’s nerves, his concussion pains increase, he often loses consciousness, and after a short respite in his hometown, Pavel goes to Kiev, where he also ends up in the Special Department under Comrade Segal’s direction.
The second part of the novel opens with a description of the trip to the gubernia with Rita Ustinovich, Korchagina appoints her as assistants and bodyguards. Lent Rita “leather jacket”, he squeezes into the car, and then through the window drags a young woman. “For him, Rita was untouchable: it was his friend and companion on purpose, his political instructor, and... yet she was a woman, for the first time she felt it at the bridge, and that’s why he cares so much about her. Pavel felt a deep, even breathing, then her lips came very close to her. Inwardly, an irresistible desire to find these lips was born, and, by straining his will, he suppressed this desire. ” Unable to cope with his feelings, Pavel Korchagin refuses to meet with Rita Ustinovich, who teaches his political teaching. Thoughts about the personal move away in the youth’s mind even further, when he takes part in the construction of a narrow gauge railway. The season is difficult – winter, Komsomol members work in four shifts, not having time to rest. Work is delayed by bandit raids. Komsomol members have nothing to feed, clothes and shoes, too. The work until the complete breakdown of forces ends in a serious illness. Paul falls, struck down with typhus. His closest friends, Zhuhrai and Ustinovich, without having information about him, think that he is dead.
However, after the illness, Paul again in the ranks. As a worker, he returns to the workshops, where he not only works hard, but also brings order, forcing the Young Communist League members to wash and clean the shop to the utmost perplexity of the authorities. In the town and throughout Ukraine the class struggle continues, the chekists catch the enemies of the revolution, suppress the bandit raids. Young Komsomol member Korchagin performs many good deeds, defending the cells of his comrades in the meetings, and on the dark streets – party friends.
“The most precious thing for a person is life, it is given to him once, and it must be lived so that it is not painfully painful for aimlessly lived years, so as not to burn shame for the petty and petty past and that, dying, he could say: the whole life, all the forces were given to the most beautiful in the world – the struggle for the liberation of mankind. and we must hurry to live, for an absurd illness or some tragic accident can interrupt it. “
Having witnessed many deaths and killing himself, Pavka valued every day he lived, accepting party orders and statutory orders as responsible directives of his being. As a propagandist, he takes part in the defeat of the “workers’ opposition,” calling the “petty-bourgeois” behavior of his own brother, and even more so in verbal attacks against the Trotskyites, who dared to oppose the party. They do not want to listen to him, and after all, Comrade Lenin pointed out that one must bet on the youth.
When Shepetivka became aware that Lenin was dead, thousands of workers became Bolsheviks. Respect for the party members advanced Paul far ahead, and one day he found himself at the Bolshoi Theater next to member of the Central Committee Rita Ustinovich, who was surprised to learn that Pavel was alive. Paul says that he loved her, like the Gadfly, a man of courage and endless endurance. But Rita already has a friend and a three-year-old daughter, and Pavel is sick, and he is sent to the sanatorium of the Central Committee, carefully examined. However, a serious illness leading to complete immobility progresses. No new best sanatoria and hospitals are able to save it. With the idea that “we must remain in the ranks,” Korchagin begins to write. Next to him are good kind women: first Dora Rodkin, then Taya Kyutsam. “Well, is it bad for him to live his twenty-four years?” Looking over in memory year after year,