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Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 621

A teacher name Can returns to his native land of Andorra, bringing with him a baby called Andri whom he rescued from the “Nation of The Blacks,” where the baby would have been at risk of antisemitic violence. The play’s action begins a number of years after this event, with...

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A teacher name Can returns to his native land of Andorra, bringing with him a baby called Andri whom he rescued from the “Nation of The Blacks,” where the baby would have been at risk of antisemitic violence. The play’s action begins a number of years after this event, with Andri grown to manhood and in love with his half-sister, Barblin, who is Can’s daughter. The opening scene shows Barblin whitewashing her father’s house in preparation for what she expects to be her wedding to Andri, whose love she warmly reciprocates. However, she is accosted during her work by a bitter soldier known as Pieder, who warns her that underneath the whitewash, there will always be blood-red clay.

This warning proves to be a telling metaphor for Andorra itself and for the people in the town where Barblin and Andri live, who, while seeming virtuous and pure on first appearances, soon turn out to harbor the same unfortunate antisemitic views as were pervasive in the “Nation of Blacks.” During their conversations at the local inn, the townspeople ascribe to Andri stereotypical Jewish traits, portraying him as a greedy, manipulative capitalist. The local cabinet-maker is afraid that Andri will prove a more adept salesman than him because of his Jewish faith, and so he demands an unreasonably high price for taking him on as apprentice. Andri grudgingly accepts the identity foisted on him by his neighbors, though he finds it hard to swallow when his foster father refuses to let him marry Barblin, believing that it is because of his religion.

One night, Barblin is sexually assaulted by Pieder while lying in bed, with her former fiancé sitting right outside the door. In the morning, Can approaches his foster son hoping that the alcohol he has consumed the night before will embolden him to tell him the truth about his heritage, but he struggles to get the words out, and Andri isn’t ready to wait and listen. Andri knocks on Barblin’s door to wake her and is surprised by Pieder, who opens the door and instructs him to go away, threatening him with violence if he doesn’t do so. Andri visits a priest the next morning, who tries to help him reconcile himself to being different from the Andorrans, but Andri continues to struggle with this idea.

He angrily confronts Pieder and his friends in the town square concerning the incident with Barblin, but he is soundly beaten, ultimately requiring rescue from a passing woman, The Señora, who is a native of the “Nation of The Blacks.” After helping Andri recover from his injuries, she confronts Can, accusing him of cowardliness for not telling his foster son the truth about his past. The friendship between Andri and The Señora is short-lived, since she is killed by an unknown Andorran. Andri is blamed for this crime by the innkeeper, though he had a sound alibi, having been in conversation with the priest at that time (with the latter on this occasion trying to convince him that he was, in fact, the true son of Can, though again Andri is unconvinced).

The Blacks invade Andorra, seeking retribution for their murdered citizen, and they force all the men to walk blindfolded across the town square. “The Jew Detector” is of the opinion that Andri is guilty for the crime, and despite Can’s belated insistence that Andri is not a Jew, he is executed by The Blacks. The play’s cyclical structure is concluded with the image of Barblin, obsessively whitewashing her father’s house in a symbolic effort to erase the painful knowledge of her father and her half-brother’s death—the former’s by suicide.


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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 668

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 early morning, Can stumbles into the hallway where Andri is sitting guard outside Barblin’s room. The drunken Can tries to tell Andri the truth about his birth but hesitates, and Andri refuses to listen to him. Once Can retreats, Andri pounds on Barblin’s door, which Pieder opens and tells him to go away or he will smash his face in.

The next day, the despondent Andri meets with the Priest, who attempts to help Andri reconcile himself to the fact that he is different from the Andorrans. In the town square, Andri accosts Pieder and provokes a fight. The Senora, a woman from the country of the Blacks, intervenes after the soldiers have knocked Andri down and kicked him. She cleans Andri’s wounds and leads him home, arm in arm. She then confronts and upbraids Can for the lie he perpetrated to save his reputation. She accuses him of being a coward and makes him promise to tell Andri and the townspeople the truth.

The Senora forges a bond with Andri before leaving to return home. Before she departs the town, however, she is murdered by someone who throws a stone at her. Andri is accused of the murder by the Innkeeper, who claims to have witnessed the event. Andri was with the Priest at the time, who was trying unsuccessfully to convince him that he truly is Can’s son and not a Jew. The Blacks invade Andorra, capture the town, and begin the process of identifying the Senora’s killer. All the men of the town are forced to parade barefoot across the town square with sacks over their heads while the Jew Detector seeks to identify the culprit. He pronounces that Andri is the Jew who killed the Senora, and despite the protestations of Can and his wife that Andri is not a Jew and that he is innocent of the murder, Andri is killed.

The play ends with the image of Barblin again whitewashing what she thinks is her father’s house, but now her head is shaven and she is obviously unstrung because of Andri’s death and her father’s suicide by hanging. She says, “I’m whitewashing so that we shall have a white Andorra, you murderers, a snow-white Andorra; I shall whitewash all of you, all of you.”

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