In The Orphanage by Serhiy Zhadan, Pasha was trying to go into a neighboring city to rescue his nephew from an orphanage. When he reached a train station, the attendants demanded to see his papers, from which they concluded that he was a teacher and was local to the region. (His papers evidently did not tell people which specific topic he taught, though, since the book elsewhere mentions that he was reluctant to tell people that he taught the Ukrainian language). However, when the book was describing his papers, the only paper it mentioned was a rather beat-up blue passport. I can see from Wikipedia that Ukraine issued blue internal passports until 2016. According to Wikipedia, it listed details like their registered address, date and place of birth, marital status, and details like that. However, I don't see anything that would indicate their occupation.

How did the attendants know that he was a teacher? Am I missing something about the internal passport, or was there some other paper that would indicate that? What was included in papers at that point?

  • 2
    could you quote the text (and a sentence before and after that)?
    – Andra
    Oct 22, 2023 at 19:56

1 Answer 1


If I understand you correctly, you are referring the scene where Pasha was trying to help a woman with a child who was robbed. While people were trying to establish who the thief is, the attendant appeared, and the following dialog took place (referring Ukrainian text):

– Стоять, – каже приземкуватий. – Стоять. Ти хто такий? ("Hold on", says the short [attendant], "Hold on. Who are you?")
– Учитель, – говорить Паша. ("A teacher", Pasha says.)

Then the attendant takes Pasha to his office, and, indeed, the following dialog assumes that the attendant knows that Pasha is a teacher:

– Зі станції? – питає спокійно. ("From the station?" asks calmly)
– Ну, – підтверджує Паша. ("Yup", Pasha confirms)
– Учитель? ("A teacher?")
– Учитель. ("A teacher.")
– Шо зразу не сказав? ("Why didn't you say it before?")

  • Yes, that's the scene. Did the attendants just finally process what he had already told them, or did they see something in his papers? Oct 23, 2023 at 12:55
  • @EJoshuaS-StandwithUkraine As I understand the text, he just processed what was said back in the train station hall. The Ukrainian internal passports did not contain notes on one's job. OTOH, schools often issue teachers' ID cards (in case if school has checkpoint, either automated or with a human guard). There is no mention about such thing in the book, however. Oct 23, 2023 at 16:50

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