Joseph Bloch, a construction worker and former soccer goalie. Bloch is a young man when viewed from all perspectives except the game of soccer, which he used to play quite well. Unfortunately, his soccer days are behind him; this is unfortunate because he cannot accommodate himself to the far more complex and unpredictable world of an everyday reality that does not abide by the clear-cut rules of sport. Bloch’s paranoia is signaled in the novel’s opening paragraph, when he assumes that he has been fired because only the foreman looks at him when he walks into the construction shack. His murder of a theater cashier a day later is merely an extension of this first irrational thought. Throughout the rest of the novel, this formerly great goalie is, ironically, without a goal: He has no genuine destination or purpose in life. The reader follows his wanderings, witnesses his descent into ever deeper psychosis, and wonders how long it will be before his murderous impulse overtakes him again.
Gerda, a theater cashier. Because all characters are seen through Bloch’s paranoid-psychotic eyes, it is difficult to view them as discrete, independent entities. For example, the reader is less “astonished” at the naturalness with which the cashier handles Bloch’s money than is Bloch himself, yet it is this quality (which Bloch does not possess) that attracts him to her, ultimately leading to her death....
(The entire section is 576 words.)