Ilf and Petrov’s novel “The Twelve Chairs”: characteristics of the characters

Ilf and Petrov’s novel “The Twelve Chairs”: characteristics of the characters

The novel “The Twelve Chairs” by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov was written in 1927 in a short time, and a year later the first publication took place. The story of the great schemer and giant of thought, the father of Russian democracy, was greeted coolly by his contemporaries, and then even ended up on the list of prohibited literature. But several decades later, the originality of the work was appreciated by his compatriots. The book became one of the most popular Soviet works.


The heroes of the novel “The Twelve Chairs”, a description of their characteristics is in the material Attiremag .

Brief story


Before her death, the mother-in-law informs her son-in-law Ippolit Matveevich Vorobyaninov that the family jewels are hidden in their hotel set of chairs. In order to return the diamonds, Kisa goes on a trip to the USSR.


Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov. Photo:  ” Yarkipedia”

In the first city he meets the adventurer Ostap Bender, who becomes his partner. Together they travel more than 1000 km. But the comrades never manage to take possession of the family wealth.


Characteristics of the main characters


Ostap Bender

Bender Ostap is the main character of the novel “The Twelve Chairs”, an adventurer prone to fraud. He handles all matters with his inherent talent and easily admits his mistakes, trying to correct them.

Kisa Vorobyaninov

Ippolit Matveevich, nicknamed Kisa, works in the registry office; he previously belonged to a noble family. The man occupies a tiny position and tries not to cast a shadow on his affairs. Vorobyaninov lives a quiet life, but the desire to get his inheritance takes over.

Characteristics of minor characters


Father Fedor

The character Fyodor Vostrikov serves as a priest. Under the influence of circumstances, he decides to change his life. In order to start a new stage, the character shaves his beard and follows the main characters.


Ellochka Shchukina

Shchukin’s wife, Ellochka the cannibal, is a cutesy girl, a minor heroine with a small vocabulary. Her vocabulary includes only 30 words, which does not prevent her from communicating with others.

Madame Petukhova

An elderly woman named Claudia Ivanovna Petukhova is Kisa Vorobyaninov’s mother-in-law. Before her death, she told her son-in-law about the jewelry that was hidden in the headset.

Widow Gritsatsueva

In order to get the chair, Ostap Bender had to marry the widow Gritsatsueva . Madame, after the death of her previous husband, passionately wanted to arrange her personal life. A languid person in lace dresses was engaged in fortune telling with cards and palmistry. She treated her fiance with reverence.

Katerina Alexandrovna

Katerina Aleksandrovna, the wife of Fyodor’s father, embodies the image of a troublesome, pleasing heroine. He writes a letter to her in which he talks about his adventures.


The hero of the novel “The Twelve Chairs,” undertaker Bezenchuk, was always tipsy and loved to think about the eternal. His distinctive features were bright yellow eyes and a wide mustache.


Lyapis Trubetskoy

Nikifor Lyapis-Trubetskoy is a minor character, a literary figure who tried to become famous. The hack writer composed a poetic cycle about Gavril, which he called “Gavriliada.” I tried to submit my essay to various magazines.

Elena Bour

Vorobyaninov’s beloved Elena Stanislavovna Bour was previously married to a prosecutor. An aged woman, who in her youth shone at balls and was a sultry beauty, scared off her former admirer with her appearance. He was amazed at her transformation into an ugly old woman.

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The main idea of ​​the novel “The Twelve Chairs”


The novel tells about Soviet life in the 20s of the XX century. It touched on the NEP period with a variety of characters and plots. According to critics, the meaning of the novel is that Soviet power came forever and any attempts to return to the past looked comical and absurd.

A still from the film adaptation of the novel “The Twelve Chairs.” Photo:Kino-Theater

The main idea of ​​the work was the words that wealth cannot be earned through dishonest labor. In the new century, funds are distributed among citizens by the state according to the socialist concept.

Does Ostap Bender have a prototype?

The main character of the story had a number of prototypes according to critics’ research. First of all, this is Osip Shor, an Odessa adventurer who served in the criminal investigation department and was known as a local fashionista. In addition to him, contemporaries made assumptions that it could be Ilya Ilf’s brother Sandro Fazini, whom his relatives called the Odessa Apache, and Mitya Schirmacher, about whom there were rumors that his father was a Turkish subject.

What was the nationality of Ostap Bender

The authors of the novel gave Ostap Bender a multinational origin. By his name one could determine that he was Ukrainian, by his last name he was a German Jew. The patronymic Ibrahimovic referred readers to the character’s Turkish roots.

What does the expression “And then Ostap got carried away” mean?

The origin of the phrase “And then Ostap got carried away” is connected with one scene from the novel. Bender ends up on an electric pole and shouts these words without reason. In the novel it sounds different: “Ostap was carried away.” Over time, the expression acquired a more negative connotation in the lexicon. Soviet readers loved this phrase. It describes the story of a man who is trying to exaggerate his abilities and achievements.

How old was Ostap Bender

At the beginning of the story, Ostap calls himself a man of 27 years old, but in the next book, “The Golden Calf,” he already reports that he has reached the age of Christ , that is, 33 years.

What problems do the authors raise in the novel “The Twelve Chairs”

The sharply satirical novel tells the story of an adventurer and rogue who is trying to make a profit in this life. The work can also be classified as a travel novel, since the entire narrative takes place during the journey of the main characters.

A still from the film adaptation of the novel “The Twelve Chairs.” Photo: Kino-Theater

The authors debunk the myth of easy enrichment, even despite small successes in the field of deceiving fellow citizens. At the same time, negative characters are not shown negatively. The problems of the novel are presented in a satirical manner, easily and naturally. The conflict between the main characters of the novel “The Twelve Chairs” is not revealed, and only in the last part it becomes the cause of Ostap’s death.

How does the novel “The Twelve Chairs” end?


At night, before taking the last chair, Kisa Vorobyaninov kills Ostap Bender. But in the morning he finds out that all the diamonds have already been found and used for the construction of the railway club. Bender loses his life because of his partner’s greed. Fyodor Vostrikov goes crazy when he realizes that he cannot find the jewelry.

Interesting Facts

  • The novel has been filmed several times. The first performer of the role of Ostap Bender was the Polish actor Adolf Dymsha. The film was released in 1933. In the Czech-Polish film adaptation he received the name Kamil Klepka.
  • Since the novel was banned from publication in the USSR from the late 40s, the first films were filmed only during the thaw period. The first to be released was a comedy directed by Alexander Belinsky with the participation of Igor Gorbachev and Nikolai Boyarsky.
  • The most popular films based on the script of “The Twelve Chairs” were the comedies of Leonid Gaidai and Mark Zakharov .
  • Before finding a performer for the role of the main character of the novel “The Twelve Chairs,” Gaidai conducted tests with Evgeny Evstigneev , Spartak Mishulin , Vladimir Vysotsky , Muslim Magomayev and others. And only at the last moment I settled on Archila Gomiashvili.


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