Characters Discussed

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Barabbas, a convicted robber who is freed so that Jesus Christ might be crucified in his stead. Puzzled by the events of the Crucifixion, he wanders about the earth and is finally enslaved in a Roman mine. Concealing the true nature of his relationship with the crucified Jesus, Barabbas poses as a Christian, but when confronted by the Roman governor, he readily renounces his “faith” and is taken to Rome. One night, seeing flames, he imagines that Christ has returned to save the world and destroy the city. He seizes a burning brand and is arrested and imprisoned with the Christians, who tell him that it is Caesar, not Christ, who has set the fires. Barabbas is crucified for his “crime,” saying, ambiguously, as he dies, that he delivers his soul “to thee.”

Barabbas’ mistress

Barabbas’ mistress, the mother of his dead child. She becomes a Christian and is stoned to death for her beliefs.


Eliahu, Barabbas’ father, the leader of a robber band. Barabbas kills him in order to take over leadership of the robbers.


Sahak, Barabbas’ fellow slave in the Roman mines, crucified for his faith in Christ.


Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who disturbs Barrabbas with her look of silent reproach as he leaves the Crucifixion.


Peter, the Apostle, of whom Barabbas asks questions about Christ. They are imprisoned and crucified together after the fire in Rome.


Lazarus, raised from the dead; he tells Barabbas that, once one has died, life and death are nothing.

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Critical Essays