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“Infantry”

Emblazoned in red is the word “Infantry [Pekhota],” providing one of the story’s pedagogical aspects:  young readers are meant to learn the word and to associate it with the accompanying picture of a dozen Red Army soldiers marching in two rows across the page.  The members of the detachment again wear the recognizable budenovki and are visually represented as a purposeful collective.  Some of the soldiers do not have facial features; instead, the Red Army soldiers are depicted as embodying the iron discipline required of all defenders of the Soviet Union

Ivan and Stepan are separated by the text from the other, more dominant image of Red Army soldiers.  We do not see the boys’ faces; rather, the viewer is encouraged to read the story through their eyes.  The Chichagovas depict the two boys rather simply, each one wearing the clothes and caps that identify them as lower class (and thus the “right” class for joining the army later). 

The Red Army walked through the village singing songs. Marching side by side, each soldier had a rifle on his shoulder. Two children, Ivan and Stepan, stopped playing to gaze at the army.

The red army marched by, and Ivan asked, “Styopa, hey Styopa, what is the Red Army for?”

Stepan grinned:

“It's well known what it’s for… to sing songs.”

 But Ivan, a smart boy, shook his head, “What, no! If they are only for singing, then they would dance around as well on their booted feet. Otherwise, they should just walk on roads.”

“I’m telling you, they sing songs!”

The children quarreled about it and fought, then they reconciled.

“Let’s go” said Ivan, “Rather than arguing, let’s find out what the Red Army is for.”

They followed after the army.

 

 

(Translation by Monique Asetre, Dalhousie University)