Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Uncle Karol

Uncle Karol and

Uncle Olek

Uncle Olek, two of the author’s maternal uncles. They are inseparable to the point that one will not go anywhere without the other. They differ, however, in that Karol is very patriotic and believes in fighting (and dying) for one’s country, whereas Olek is the type who believes in avoiding conscription at any cost. They serve as a kind of dark comic relief.

Uncle Stas

Uncle Stas, a Siberian deportee and another of the author’s maternal uncles. Karol and Olek are so embarrassed by Stas’s appearance—he looks like a busker wearing a tattered army uniform—that they decide to pretend that they do not know him.

Mother Helka

Mother Helka (Helena Berger), also called the Bride, the author’s mother. Dressed completely in white, she is dead at the time of the wedding, though in real life she lived long enough to give birth to the author.


Father (Marian Kantor), the author’s father, a soldier. He is also dead at the time of the wedding, and he is by turns reviled and welcomed by Helka’s family.

Mad Aunt Manka

Mad Aunt Manka, an insane old woman. Another of the author’s maternal relatives, she continually quotes biblical passages in a hysterical way, “as she periodically goes through a religious crisis.”

Grandma Katarzyna

Grandma Katarzyna, the author’s maternal grandmother. Although she, too, is dead at the beginning of the play, she later comes alive, only to announce the timing of the crucifixion of Adas (a young recruit), the Priest, and Helka.

The Priest

The Priest, Grandma Katarzyna’s brother. Although he is dead, he performs the marriage ceremony for Helka and Marian. At the end, he is led away by the Little Rabbi, a character who appears only briefly.

The Photographer’s Widow

The Photographer’s Widow, the wife of the late town photographer, Ricordo. She serves double duty as the new town photographer and as a harbinger of death. She not only tends the dead bodies but also creates them by killing people with her camera-cum-machine gun.