The Case of Comrade Tulayev Summary & Study Guide

Victor Serge
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The Case of Comrade Tulayev Summary & Study Guide Description

The Case of Comrade Tulayev Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge.

The Case of Comrade Tulayev, by Victor Serge, is a fiction novel that highlights the real-life corruption behind the Soviet Union. Author Victor Serge (born Victor Kibalchich) was the son of Russian political exiles and an exile himself. He spent much of his life writing fiction that exposed totalitarianism and corruption in the U.S.S.R.

This novel is circular in structure. It begins and ends with the stories of two men living in Moscow in the late 1930s. Romachkin is a sickly old man who toils away as an assistant clerk in the wages department of the Moscow Clothing Trust. He is devastated by the injustices he sees around him. He buys a Colt revolver on the black market to exact justice, but he does not have the nerve to use it. He ends up giving the revolver to his neighbor, Kostia.

Kostia is a tall, young man who works in the office of a subway construction yard and is a leader of the Young Communists. He is also disillusioned with the state of his country, but he has the innocent hope of youth and believes that he can create change for the better. He carries the Colt revolver around with him for days. Then, one night he happens to be on a dark street alone with a high government official, Comrade Tulayev, whom he believes is corrupt. In a rash act, Kostia shoots Tulayev and runs away. This is the impetus for the entire rest of the novel.

Subsequent chapters unfold the stories of each of the principle individuals accused of the crime of Tulayev's murder. The government decides that the Tulayev case must be a political plot, and they set out to find (or create) the perpetrators. Thousands of dossiers are collected in the initial investigation, but examiners pinpoint very specific individuals they decide to prosecute.

The main suspects include the following: Erchov (the former High Commissar for Security and Commissar of the People for Internal Affairs); Rublev (an academic); Makeyev (born a peasant, who has risen through the ranks as a soldier and eventually becomes the Regional Secretary of Kurgansk); Kondratiev (a career revolutionary who is an old friend of the Chief); and finally Ryzhik (an old Trotskyist who is brought back from deportation to face charges).

Erchov, Rublev, and Makeyev are eventually executed for the plot to kill Tulayev even though none of them had anything to do with Tulayev's death. It was not a plot; it was a rash act by an individual. Ryzhik dies in prison from a hunger strike before he can be executed. Kondratiev is the only one who escapes execution, partly because of his friendship with the Chief (Stalin).

In the last chapter of the book, Kostia is tormented by guilt and sends an unsigned confession to the Central Committee. Comrade Flieshman, an examiner in the case, burns the letter and files the thousands of pages of trumped up charges on the Tulayev plot. The Tulayev case is closed.

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