Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 503
A young man born in “the Nation of Blacks,” Andri’s lifelong experience of exclusion from the people of his adopted country has left him very uncertain of himself. He has a genuine love for Barblin, and when his love is frustrated, it sends him into a spiral of melancholy from which he never recovers. He has a strong sense of “the right,” as shown by his hunger to know the truth about his past and by his confrontation of Pieder for what he did to Barblin.
Can, the teacher, was once an energetic and well-meaning youth who endeavored to teach his students truth rather than what was printed in their textbooks. However, long years of exposure to the hypocrisy and cruelty of the Andorran people have left him bitter and pessimistic. He lacks the courage to tell Andri about his true heritage, and while he does resist the invading Blacks and stands up for Andri prior to his execution, he ultimately gives up on life and hangs himself.
Barblin starts the play as an innocent and optimistic young woman. However, her assault by the monstrous Pieder and the execution of her lover, Andri, destroys her hopeful spirit and leaves her in a state of insanity.
This character is Andri’s mother, though he doesn’t know it. She shows courage in confronting Pieder and the other soldiers, and she also shows a strong sense of justice in confronting her former lover, Can, about him not telling Andri about his past. Her mysterious origins are what provoke the suspicions against her—suspicions that ultimately causes her demise.
This priest is the most insightful and thoughtful of the town’s people. He makes Andri think on two occasions about his identity, but he ultimately lacks the skills of persuasion to make him believe that he is Can’s son.
Pieder is a violent, drunken soldier, who hates Jews and is unafraid of using violence to get what he wants. He delivers the foreshadowing metaphor in the play’s first scene concerning the fact that under all whitewash, there is blood-red clay.
The mother of Barblin and wife of Can, this character lives in a state of constant denial, endeavoring to maintain an atmosphere of tranquility in her home, even as the play’s troubling events take place around her.
The innkeeper shares the narrow-mindedness and hypocrisy of his fellow citizens. He takes these vices to the next level by falsely accusing Andri of the crime for which he will ultimately be executed.
This carpenter has bought into the antisemitic attitudes with which he has grown up. He actually believes that Andri, because of his supposed Jewish heritage, would make a better salesman than a carpenter, and he is therefore reluctant to take him on as an apprentice.
A fellow worker in the carpenter’s workshop who lacks the courage to stand up to his master when he deceives Andri.
Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 511
Andri, a twenty-year-old who was brought up in Andorra (not the small European country but a “model”) in the belief that he is a Jew whom his foster father, the teacher, rescued from persecution by the “blacks” across the border. Since then, the Andorrans have forced him into the role of an outsider and to behave like their stereotypical notion of a Jew—a rootless, greedy, lustful, heartless, oversensitive coward. Learning that he is not a Jew exacerbates his confusion and anguish. Having been ferreted out by the totalitarian “Jew-detector,” Andri finally is dragged to his doom by the invading blacks while his fellow Andorrans look on passively.
The teacher, named Can, a man who drinks heavily in an attempt to drown his sorrow over the stupidity, cupidity, and hypocrisy of his fellow Andorrans. As a young, idealistic gadfly and firebrand, he called his pupils’ attention to the many untruths in their textbooks. Now, however, the man who cravenly disowned his son Andri has a chilling sense of doom and attempts in vain to atone for his cowardice and deception. He is the only Andorran who offers resistance to the nightmarish invaders, but eventually he feels compelled to hang himself in his schoolroom.
Barblin, the teacher’s teenage daughter. She falls in love with Andri without realizing that their union would be incestuous. Barblin suffers the trauma of being raped by the brutish soldier, Peider. In the end, the half-demented girl, the only Andorran who has nothing to whitewash, senselessly splashes white paint on the town’s cobblestones and speaks of saving Andri’s shoes for his possible return.
The señora, a mysterious woman from across the border. She confronts her erstwhile lover, the teacher, and accuses him of cowardice in not acknowledging their son. She is suspected of being a spy for the blacks and is killed by a stone; Andri is falsely accused of having thrown it.
Father Benedict, a priest who is more sensitive and insightful than his fellow citizens, yet even he is not free from prejudice. He is the only one who really acknowledges his guilt: He enchained Andri, as it were, by fashioning for himself a fixed image of him.
The mother, the teacher’s wife and Barblin’s mother. She strives in vain for a peaceful atmosphere in the family.
Ferrer, the new medical officer of Andorra, widely traveled and yet a narrow-minded, frustrated Jew baiter.
Prader, a carpenter who believes that Andri should not be his apprentice but instead should become a salesman or a stockbroker. He charges the teacher an exorbitant sum for training Andri.
Peider, a soldier. He is a quintessential bully, drunken braggart, chauvinist, and anti-Semite.
The innkeeper, who is as hypocritical as his fellow citizens. He employs Andri as a kitchen boy.
Fedri, an opportunist who is too weak to oppose his master’s trickery in the carpenter’s shop when the chair he has made proves inferior to Andri’s.