Herman Broder, a refugee from Poland, where the Nazis have destroyed his family. He lives in Brooklyn and makes a living by ghostwriting for a rabbi, though he tells his wife, Yadwiga, that he is a traveling book salesman so that he can spend time with his lover, Masha Tortshiner, in her apartment in the Bronx. He observes Jewish dietary laws but otherwise has largely forsaken his Jewish faith, having become utterly fatalistic. Perhaps it is this fatalistic attitude, coupled with a smoldering eroticism, that makes him attractive to the three women who love him.
Yadwiga Broder, a Polish peasant girl, Herman’s second wife and his savior. She hid Herman in the barn of her parents’ farm during the Nazi occupation of Poland. She fell in love with Herman when she worked for his family as a servant and has been devoted to him ever since. She worships Herman and after her conversion tries hard to be a good Jewish wife. Extremely shy and unable to speak much English, she avoids her kindly neighbors and lives only for Herman, with whom she finally has a child.
Masha Tortshiner, Herman’s lover, separated from her husband, Leon, who refuses to give her a divorce. Neurotic, beautiful, and demanding, she wants Herman to divorce Yadwiga and marry her. She is not above tricking him into consent.
Shifrah Puah Bloch
Shifrah Puah Bloch, Masha’s deeply...
(The entire section is 613 words.)