Analysis

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 364

Andorra is a play primarily about prejudice. The play centers around Andri, a supposedly Jewish orphan adopted into a beautiful, idyllic Andorran town. The people of Andorra, however, cannot get past their stereotypical view of Jewish people, and throughout the play, they are revealed to disdain and mistrust Andri for his supposed heritage. For example, when Andri’s father tries to get him apprenticed to a cabinetmaker, the cabinetmaker is reluctant because he thinks that Andri would make a better salesman. He proves himself right by immediately destroying Andri’s woodwork and criticizing its poor craftsmanship—even though the chair had been made by another apprentice (who does not intervene). Other characters insult Andri and even hurt him, such as the soldier, a rival for Andri’s romantic interest who trips him early in the play and later assaults him.

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Thus, even when Andri is told repeatedly that he is not, in fact, Jewish, the lifelong mistreatment based upon that heritage leads him to adopt and embrace a Jewish identity anyway. Ultimately, the town’s prejudices, combined with miscommunications and omissions, lead to Andri’s death, as he is executed for a crime that he did not commit. Throughout the play, the action is broken by testimonies from many of the characters on a “witness stand” discussing Andri’s execution; even though many of them clearly contributed to his death, only one character, the priest of the town, acknowledges and admits his guilt.

Though the author of the play, Max Frisch, intended for the play to be about prejudices in general. His focus on antisemitism and the context of the play specifically associate it with post–World War II literature. Frisch, a Swiss author, wrote and published the play in the late 1940s, when the scars from World War II were still quite fresh in Europe. Many audience members may have even remembered how supposedly good people turned against each other during the war and how minorities became scapegoats in a time of fear and anger. It is thus easy to see why Frisch would make his main character suffer from negative Jewish stereotypes, as this would resonate most profoundly with a European audience.

The Play

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1422

In the opening scene of Andorra, Barblin is whitewashing her father’s house in preparation for Saint George’s Day. Interrupted by an Andorran soldier who is attracted to her, she tries to ward him off by announcing that she is engaged. Father Benedict enters, and the conversation that ensues among the soldier, the priest, and Barblin reveals that an invasion by the anti-Semitic Blacks from across the border is imminent.

Next, the square of Andorra is seen. The carpenter and Can, the teacher, sitting outside the inn, haggle over the fee for an apprenticeship for the teacher’s foster son Andri, thought to be a Jew saved by the teacher from the Blacks. The carpenter, sensing Andri’s keen interest in carpentry and the teacher’s anxiety about finding a suitable position for his son, demands an exorbitant sum and suggests that Andri become a stockbroker, something that is, after all, “in his blood.” The teacher, determined to scrape together the money Andri needs, is joined by the innkeeper, who proceeds to exploit Can’s predicament by offering to buy his land.

During most of scene 1, the kitchen boy Andri is seen feeding his tips into the jukebox located on the forestage. A carefree youth, he is exuberant about his secret engagement to Barblin and the prospect of becoming a carpenter. Soon thereafter, however, the soldier Peider brags about his own bravery, trips Andri, and calls him a cowardly Jew.

Scene 2 takes place on the threshold outside Barblin’s room. Her fiancé Andri wonders aloud...

(The entire section contains 2234 words.)

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