Last Updated on September 5, 2023, 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.