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Tyurin, the boss of Ivanís Gang 104, is a fair man. Although he expects his prisoners to work hard and be disciplined, he cares about them and fights for them. He goes to he officials and convinces them to allow his gang to remain at the power plant, rather than to be sent to some desolate and miserably harsh site. He also argues for and wins extra rations for them for five days because of the good quality and quantity of their work. When the night guard complains about Caesar and the Captain for delaying their reports, Tyurin gives excuses on their behalf. Later, when the warden comes to take Buynovsky away to solitary confinement, Tyurin tries to protect the Captain. Because he cares for them and treats them fairly, the prisoners genuinely respect Tyurin and are thankful to be in his gang. As a result, when the boss threatens Der, all of the prisoners lend him their support.
Tyurin knows the abilities and work ethic of the prisoners in his gang and rewards the hard workers. He assigns Kilgas and Ivan difficult jobs, for he knows he can trust them to do the work carefully and correctly. When they go the extra mile, he gives them extra rations as a reward. Because he knows that Ivan is a kind and patient man, he pairs him with Senka, the deaf prisoner, for the job of brick laying. Because he knows the basic laziness of Fetyukov, he assigns him easier tasks and then admonishes him when he tries to shirk his duties.
Tyurin is probably such a good boss to the prisoners because he has been a prisoner in a labor camp himself. He was unfairly and dishonorable dismissed from the Red Army because his father was a kulak, a member of the landed middle class that was disliked by the Soviet regime. After being kicked out of the army, Tyurin was arrested and sent into forced labor. After many years of hard work, he was promoted to the rank of a boss, but he never forgot his past.
A member of a wealthy family, Caesar is one of the few educated prisoners. As a result, he stays largely to himself, feeling that he is better than the others. He wears a dark moustache and constantly smokes a pipe to make him look and feel distinguished. The only person with whom Caesar likes to associate is the Captain, who is also an educated man. The two of them enjoy talking about art, theater, and politics.
Caesar regularly receives packages from home that are filled with all kinds of treats, including tobacco, tea, candy, meat, and cookies. He uses the contents of the packages to bribe the officials and to buy favors for himself from the prisoners. As a result, Caesar usually has a full stomach, is allowed to work in warm places at jobs that are not overly strenuous, and is able to buy any help that he needs.
Although snobbish, Caesar is basically good at heart. When fellow prisoners do favors for him, he rewards them with treats or extra rations. Therefore, when Ivan holds a place in line for him in the package room and guards the treats spread on his bunk, Caesar gives him his dinner rations and edible luxuries from his package. Feeling sorry for the Captain, he gives him some tea to enjoy before he is taken to solitary confinement. He also gives him some cigarettes. Although he lives a life of relative luxury in the camp, Caesar does not inflict any pain on the less fortunate prisoners.
Captain Buynovsky is an educated prisoner, who had been in the Soviet navy. He worked as a liaison officer on a British naval ship and was rewarded with a medal for his distinguished service. The Soviet government dubbed him as a traitor for accepting the metal. They arrested him and sent him to the Siberian labor camp. The Captain, who is short-tempered and outspoken, has great difficulty accepting what has happened to him and following the orders of the camp officials.
Captain Buynovsky is scientifically inclined and knowledgeable. He explains the significance of dawn and the phases of moon to his fellow prisoners. He also discusses literature and films with Caesar. When Caesar talks about a particular scene from the classic film Potemkin by Einstein, the Captain enthusiastically offers his comments on it.
On one particularly cold day, Buynovsky dares to wear an unofficial jersey under his uniform in an effort to stay warm. When the guards do a check and discover the jersey, they tell him he must take it off and be punished. When the Captain dares to argue with them, he is sentenced to ten days of solitary confinement. The other prisoners think he will not be able to survive the ordeal.