Nico (Bram Cohen)

Nico is in hiding because he is a Jew in Nazi territory. Before the war and the rise of the Nazis, Nico was a perfume salesman named Bram Cohen. For Nico, captivity and hiding are particularly difficult because he has always preferred the outdoors and socializing. Now he must pass the time alone, and he watches the seasons pass through his window. Nico passes the time by playing chess against himself, but he finds the days long and dull. Sometimes he finds that he has to force himself not to go downstairs to the main level, and that internal battle is how he passes the afternoon.

When he feels especially down, Nico will come downstairs to eat supper but will say little. When Marie and Wim get a vase, Nico finds that his feelings for the vase begin to twist. Although Wim and Marie love their little piece of luxury, Nico begins to see it as a symbol that he hates, and he even feels that he hates the owners of the terrible symbol. He wishes he could walk outside more, but then he considers what would happen if he were caught: he would be taken away and questioned, and he finds that it would be cowardly and treacherous to turn in Wim and Marie. He feels a wave of emotion for his hosts.

Nico is in hiding because he is a Jew. However, he is not particularly devout. When Wim and Marie ask Nico why he never converted or left the country, his response at first confuses them. Nico explains that he has considered converting or denying his heritage many times. He decided not to when he thought about what his father would say.

During his time in captivity, Nico does his best to not be a bother. Although there are a few mishaps that put Nico and the family at risk, he is always a good guest. Nico finds it frustrating to always defer, to hide, and to repress his urges to go out or downstairs, but he usually keeps that frustration within. Ironically, when Nico dies of pneumonia, he becomes a greater risk than ever before.


Marie is a caring woman and a dutiful wife. She is very sensitive...

(The entire section is 852 words.)