(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Andorra centers on a teacher named Can, who returned from Andorra’s neighboring country, the nation of the Blacks, accompanied by an infant, whom he claimed was an orphaned Jew. Since the Blacks are notorious for their anti-Semitism, he rescued the boy and adopted him as his own child. The boy, Andri, has grown to be a young man who is in love with Can’s daughter, Barblin (Andri’s half sister), who has also promised to marry him.

As the play begins, Barblin is whitewashing her father’s house in preparation for St. George’s Day. Pieder, a soldier, ogles her and scoffs at her assertion that she is engaged. Andorra is described as a snow-white country, beautiful, peaceful, and pious. Pieder, however, points to the fact that underneath the whitewash is red clay, and when the rains come the church and houses are revealed for what they are, blood red like a slaughtered pig. At the inn, the townspeople are also revealed for what they really are in their treatment of Andri, whom they regard with disdain because they think he is a Jew. They ascribe to him traits they associate with Jewishness: avarice, sneakiness, ambition, unfeelingness, and cowardliness. The Cabinetmaker, for instance, asks for an exorbitant fee to take Andri as an apprentice because he thinks that Andri would make a better salesman.

Andri accepts the identity that is forced on him by the town and feels disappointment and resentment when Can refuses to allow him to marry Barblin, thinking that his adopted father will not allow his daughter to marry a Jew. That night, Pieder sneaks into Barblin’s room and overpowers her. In the...

(The entire section is 668 words.)