David ben Sarah
David ben Sarah, a wanderer and first-person narrator of the novel. A survivor of the Holocaust, the forty-year-old David is rebellious and skeptical of any value in a world that has lost its innocence. He is filled with memories of his childhood and spends much of his time exchanging tales and testimonies with a group of beggars in Jerusalem. At the outbreak of the Six-Day War, he joins a tank unit commanded by an old friend. Soon after meeting Katriel, another member of the unit, David makes a pact with him that if one of them should survive the war, he will bear witness for the other. David’s tale, then, is a process of bearing witness for Katriel, a man whom he envies for his compulsion to magnify humanity in an inhuman world.
Katriel, a teacher who goes back into the army to fight in the Six-Day War at the insistence of his father, a blind rabbi from Safed. Tall, slim, and quiet, Katriel knows how to tell tales and how to listen to them. He loves life and the mystery of life, despite the death of his child Sasha. He is distinguished by his power to affirm the dearness of life, and in this lies his importance to David. At the time of the war, he has been married for twenty years. the one thing that most disturbs him during the war is that he has had to kill others. When the war is over, he is missing in action, leaving David to tell his story.
(The entire section is 590 words.)