Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 15, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 787


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Zizendorf, the narrator of parts 1 and 3. He is without a family history and almost without personality as well. Although he shows some affection for Jutta, his female counterpart, he displays little emotion. A Nazi soldier during World War II, he becomes Jutta’s lover and the editor of the newspaper The Crooked Zeitung. His plot to assassinate Leevey is motivated by a desire for vengeance and power. Although he believes he is a disillusioned rationalist, he is a madman, the cold-blooded killer of Leevey, Herr Stintz, and the Mayor.

Stella (Madam Snow)

Stella (Madam Snow), a singer at the Sportswelt Brauhaus at the beginning of World War I. Bold and vivacious, she is an embodiment of the German Motherland. Although courted by Cromwell, she marries Ernst Snow, a darkly romantic figure to her, scarred from fighting in duels. Although sentimental on the surface, Stella is an opportunist who sides with the Nazis during World War II. Her son is crippled and her grandson is killed in this war. In the present, she consults her cards for signs of things to come. She longs for the Germany of her youth.

Ernst Snow

Ernst Snow, a morose young man who is dominated and manipulated by his father. He marries Stella. He expresses masochistic tendencies and is scarred frequently in duels with men he consciously identifies with his father. His masochism becomes more extreme in his attempt to escape life through religion. He ultimately identifies with Christ on the cross and longs for death, but his human nature will not be denied. Shortly before he dies, he expresses his long-repressed hatred for his father.


Jutta, Stella’s younger sister, a child during World War I. She rejects religious illusions and discovers sex after she is placed in a nunnery following the deaths of her parents. Believing that life “was not miraculous but clear, not right but undeniable” and married to a Nazi soldier during World War II, she is the perfect mate for Zizendorf.


Cromwell, an English Germanophile who claims to have no home. He believes technology is the key to the future and represents dehumanizing order. Although he loses Stella to Ernst during World War I, he wins her, in a sense, when she sides with the Nazis in World War II.

The Census-Taker

The Census-Taker, a drunk and a voyeur. He watches Zizendorf and Jutta make love. He has no function in the town because its population has neither increased nor declined. Zizendorf refers to him as “my relic-brother,” thereby revealing potential weaknesses in himself, which he must repress to carry out his plans.

Herr Stintz

Herr Stintz, a one-eyed schoolteacher and former tuba player in the orchestra. An honest man, he tells Zizendorf that no one can get away with anything. He takes Selvaggia out to witness the assassination of Leevey. This is a necessary violation of innocence, an act of education. In contrast, Zizendorf tells Selvaggia to go back to sleep. Herr Stintz’s condition and fate represent the condition and fate of art and education in...

(The entire section contains 787 words.)

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