Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Catherine Petkoff, the mother of Raina and wife of Major Petkoff. The Petkoffs are an upper-class Bulgarian family. As the play opens, Catherine rushes into Raina’s bedroom in the late evening to tell her the news that Raina’s fiancé, Sergius Saranoff, led a victory in battle in the Russian-Austrian War, with the Bulgarians on the side of the Russians. Both women are thrilled, and both are very romantic in their attitudes.
Raina Petkoff, a twenty-three-year-old who idealistically believes herself to be in love with Sergius, to whom she is engaged. As the play develops, a series of shocks and learning experiences, such as seeing Sergius with his arm around Louka, move her away from idealism and toward realism.
Louka, a servant in the household who is engaged to another servant, Nicola. She comes in to tell Catherine and Raina that the windows and shutters are to be closed and fastened because the enemy is being chased through the town by Bulgarian soldiers. Catherine tells Raina to close them and leave them closed, then leaves to take care of the rest of the household; Raina, however, prefers the windows open, so Louka closes them in such a way that Raina can open them and then leaves.
Captain Bluntschli, a Swiss mercenary soldier of about thirty-five years. He is running away after his company...
(The entire section is 577 words.)
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List of Characters
Bluntschli is a realist who believes in adapting to a situation in order to survive. A professional soldier, he knows that he is only a tool and he has no illusions about war and the practical actions one must take to win battles and stay alive. His most famous feature is that he keeps chocolates in his cartridge belt rather than bullets. His common sense appeals to Sergius, who is in awe of Bluntschli’s ability to figure out troop movements. This influence helps Sergius make the decision to be honest about Louka and to change his life.
When Bluntschli takes refuge in Raina’s bedroom, he starts a chain of events that changes his life and the lives of all those associated with the Petkoff family. Despite his pragmatism, Bluntschli has a romantic side, illustrated by such actions as: he ran off to be a soldier rather than go into his father’s business; he climbs a balcony to escape rather than drop into a cellar; and he himself returns the borrowed coat rather than shipping it, because he wants to see Raina. He has always known that total pragmatism can be as unrealistic as overblown idealism and he has tried to maintain a balance. However, over the course of the play, this balance flip-flops as he changes from a soldier who looks askance at love, to a man who is leaving the army to get married and to take care of his father’s business. Thus, the man who changed Raina’s and Sergius’s lives has also...
(The entire section is 1178 words.)