Eduard “Sam” Scham
Eduard “Sam” Scham, a railway official, poet, and world traveler. The character of Eduard is seen through the eyes of his son, Andi; the perceptions are necessarily subjective and biased. What comes through is a portrait of an eccentric, an incorrigible dreamer, and a man of many talents. He is a poet and a philosopher whose abilities are unfulfilled and squandered, partly because of his circumstances and his Jewish background, but partly because of his several character flaws. A railroad inspector, he is drawn to his profession by an insatiable urge to travel, which, in turn, reveals a basic instability and restlessness. As a Jew, he is persecuted, at first subtly but later, during World War II, openly. He also is a drunkard, a man who cannot hold on to steady relationships, whether with family members or with friends. Eduard’s aloofness to Andi is especially revealing. Despite his obvious love for his son, he frequently calls him “young man,” as if he were a stranger. Eduard also is aloof from his wife, without being unfaithful. An amateur philosopher, he adopts a fatalistic point of view that makes it somewhat easier for him to accept his final tragic fate. He lives his life as a free spirit, as a misplaced wanderer from some mysterious, exotic land. Even though he fades away into nothingness in the pogrom, he remains alive forever in his son’s memory and, even more poignantly, in his imagination.
(The entire section is 605 words.)