V. V. Bykov of the
The action takes place in the Belarusian village in the mid-thirties. Collectivization has already taken place, a collective farm has been created, so-called kulaks have been dekulakized and deported to immense places, and in fact – strong masters. One of them, Fyodor Rovba, once believed in the revolutionary ideals that the peasant was the true master of the land. From the Soviet power he received a land allotment, worked hard on this land, got a good harvest. The farm was profitable, and he bought a thresher. The whole county used this machine, and paid as much as they could. Fedor did not profit from his fellow villagers. But he lived in prosperity, it is his and ruined. District authorities on the denunciation of the envious person decided to take measures to the “new rich man.” One unbearable tax, then another – all this not only ruined Fedor, but also made him, according to the concepts of local leaders, the enemy of the people. He would have fled from the village, where his eyes were looking, but he rooted himself in his native land, in his house, in his mansion. I also wanted Fedor to let Mikolka’s son go out into the people. Fedor did not want to interfere with his career in a rash act.
In the village, however, dekulakization began. And although the family of Fedor was already poor, unable to pay off the state, Fedor was still recognized as a fist. One of the neighbors, an activist of the convoy,
With his wife and little daughter Fedor was exiled to the north. He worked in logging, not being able to somehow save his wife and daughter from misfortunes and illnesses. He buried his wife in the frozen northern land, and then he could not save his daughter from misfortune and unkind people. Left alone, Fedor decided to flee by all means. Not immediately it was possible to him, but in the end he was again in his native land. He did not even really know why he came back. Some force dragged him to the places where he grew up, worked, where his children grew, where he was once happy. Nothing remained of his former manor, but Fyodor could unerringly find the place where she was standing. But the whole trouble was that he could not just go to a familiar place, walk around the village, look into the eyes of people. Red propaganda has done its black work: people considered him a class enemy, the criminal. How could it happen that former neighbors became enemies? This was the most painful for Fedor.
Hungry, exhausted, he wandered around his native village. He really wanted to know what she was like, a new life. A casual conversation with an unfamiliar old man, met at the edge of the forest, convinced him that things were not going well on the collective farm. Feeds are not enough, the crops are poor. Survived a terrible famine, tortured with taxes. Yes, Fedor himself saw how the peasant women worked on the collective farm potato field. So why did he suffer then? His misfortunes did not become the basis for the prosperous and joyful life of other people. But the worst was ahead. He still caught sight of fellow villagers, and they rose up against him, arranged a round-up as a wild beast. The policemen, regional activists, who were led by his own son Mikolka, came from the city. Fedor was surrounded on all sides, leaving him one way – into the swamp swamps. But the wilderness of the wilderness did not seem so terrible, as persecuted people. Fedor for them is no longer a man, these people no longer live according to human laws. They have their own truth, their own slogans, their own laws. New time has destroyed the established life for many years. The state suppressed a man. And Fyodor does not want to be his own among such people. He knows that there, in the swamp, his death, but he will not return to people, he has nothing in common with such people. The swamp absorbed him along with his pain.
Bykov is very keenly experiencing the fate of his people, according to which the “red wheel” of the Stalinist reforms was rolled. The book is written with heartache, and with great love for the toiling people, who have suffered immense sacrifices in the name of false ideals.