There are three important figures in Matas' novel about the holocaust.
Daniel is the main character. He manages to survive the the horrors of Hitler. The novel follows Daniel from the age of six in 1933 until he is eighteen, in 1945...As he ages twelve years over the course of the novel, his behaviors and his reactions to events remain consistent with his changing age. For example, a six-year-old Daniel responds to the boycott of his father's hardware store in a very immediate, personal way: "But why wouldn't they let people shop in our store?" ...However, at fourteen Daniel is able to appreciate the true impact of this event. "I look at this picture of the three of us smiling in front of the Jewish school and I realize that it was then that my life really began to change."
Erika, Daniel's younger sister, is the other main character in the story. Although she is young, Erika has a wisdom beyond her years and tries to make sense of the terrible events that she, her family, and the Jewish people endure.
Rosa is "the girl Daniel met in the Lodz Ghetto, remains focal in his mind throughout his time in the two death camps, but she does not reappear until the conclusion when Daniel finds her alive in Lodz.
A good number of other characters flow in and out of the narrative, but their roles are minor, and Daniel alone remains central to the story from beginning to end. For more on the characters, themes, and other literary elements, please visit the link below.