Franz Biberkopf (BIH-behr-kopf), an unskilled laborer and convicted criminal. Approximately thirty years old and of stocky build, Biberkopf has been a cement worker, furniture mover, tie-pin hawker, newspaper vendor, notions peddler, burglar, fence, pimp, and assistant doorkeeper. After his release from Tegel prison, where he spent four years for the involuntary killing of Ida, his fiancée, Biberkopf is at a loss as to what to do with his life and suffers from a sense of disorientation. He resolves to begin a new life as an honorable man, but he finds that after four years in prison, his real punishment is yet to come. Ida, whom he killed in a fit of jealous rage, had a sister, Minna, who is married to Karl, a locksmith. Franz is drawn to the place of his crime. He visits Minna and, on an impulse, rapes her. As a criminal convicted of a violent crime, Biberkopf receives official notice of his imminent expulsion from Berlin. the prison welfare association, however, intervenes, and he is allowed to remain in the city. He manages to stay on the path of blamelessness and earn his livelihood peddling notions, though he spends his evenings in the bars around Alexander Square in the city’s center, a slum with high rates of crime. He soon becomes involved in racketeering.
Mieze (MEE-tseh), whose real name is Emilie Parsunke (pahr-ZEWN-keh) and who is also called Sonia. She is an attractive prostitute under twenty years of age. Eva introduces her to Franz Biberkopf, and she becomes his third mistress after his release from Tegel prison. Mieze has a gentleman friend of means, and Biberkopf becomes her pimp. Mieze and Eva are friends and, to make Biberkopf happy, she suggests to Eva that Eva bear him a child, because of Eva’s continued feelings for Franz. Eventually, Eva has a miscarriage. Biberkopf and Mieze are in love; after her murder by Reinhold, Biberkopf loses his inhibitions concerning him and seeks to avenge her murder.
Eva (AY-vah), whose real name is Emilie, a prostitute and the lover of...
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