Characters

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 962

Chava
Chava is the third oldest daughter of Tevye and Golde. She likes books and learning. She reluctantly falls in love with Fydeka, a Russian. When she marries him, her parents disown her. But when the Jews are forced out of the village, she visits her parents and they acknowledge her.

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The Constable
The Constable is a local Russian official. Though friendly with Tevye, he follows his orders to first pillage the Jews, then force them to leave the area all together.

Fydeka
Fydeka is a young Russian man who is attracted to Chava. Noting her interest in books, he gives her a book to begin their courtship. He eventually marries her, though their union results in Chava’s family disowning her. When the Russians force the Jews to leave the village, Fydeka tells Tevye and Golde that he and Chava are going to Cracow because they do not want to live in a country that treats people this way.

Golde
Golde is Tevye’s wife and mother of his five daughters. They have been married for twenty-five years, and she is Tevye’s helpmate in life and work. She runs their home efficiently. Like Tevye, Golde wants to uphold tradition, while making sure her children are taken care of. She is the first to agree to the match between Lazar and Tzeitel and only follows her husband’s lead reluctantly when he tries to go against tradition. Still, she does not want to break off relations with her daughter Chava when she marries a Russian man. Her love of family outweighs tradition in the end.

Hodel
Hodel is Tevye and Golde’s second oldest daughter. Though she is a traditionalist like her parents in the beginning, she falls in love with Perchik, the radical. She breaks tradition by telling her father she is marrying Perchik and only asking for his blessing. Hodel eventually moves to Siberia to marry Perchik.

Motel Kamzoil
Motel is the impoverished tailor who is secretly engaged to Tzeitel. Though he is afraid of Tevye, he asks him for Tzeitel’s hand in marriage when he learns about the match with Lazar. Motel believes that even an impoverished tailor deserves a little happiness. He turns out to be a good husband for Tzeitel. Motel desperately wants a sewing machine and eventually gets it. At the end of the play, he and Tzeitel are moving to Warsaw so they can save money and eventually emigrate to the United States.

Perchik
Perchik is a young man from Kiev with an education. Under an arrangement with Tevye, he gives lessons to the daughters in exchange for food. Perchik falls in love with Hodel and becomes engaged to her. Perchik is responsible for introducing the idea of breaking tradition into the village. He convinces Hodel to dance with him. He believes also that the villagers should have an awareness of what is going on in the outside world, especially how forces are working against Jews within Russia. Perchik is eventually arrested in Kiev and sent to Siberia, where Hodel goes to marry him.

Tevye
Tevye is the main character in Fiddler on the Roof. He is an impoverished dairyman and community leader with a wife and five daughters. He has a loving relationship with his family. During the play, he struggles to support them and uphold traditions. He is not inflexible, however. He agrees to let Lazar Wolf marry his eldest daughter Tzeitel as Yente the matchmaker arranged, but when she wants to marry someone else, he lets her have her way. He disowns his daughter Chava when she marries a Russian, only acknowledging her at the end of the play.

Tevye is also generous, despite his stubbornness. When he realizes that Perchik is new in town, he invites the young man to eat Sabbath dinner with his family. He also arranges for Perchik to give his daughters lessons in exchange for food. Tevye is also the contact between the Jewish villagers and the local Russian constable. Their relationship is so friendly that the Constable warns Tevye when his men must raid the Jewish community. This relationship turns sour when the Constable has to tell Tevye that the Jews must leave the village. Tevye takes his family and moves the to the United States.

Tzeitel
Tzeitel is Tevye and Golde’s eldest daughter; she is about twenty years old. She is in love with Motel, the impoverished tailor, and wants to marry him. They secretly pledged to marry about a year before the play begins. When Tevye tells her of the match that has been made between her and Lazar Wolf, she begs her father not to force her into the marriage. He eventually agrees, and she happily marries the man she loves. Eventually she has a son with him. When the Jews are forced out of the village, she goes to Warsaw with her husband while they save money to move to America.

Lazar Wolf
Lazar is the local butcher and is relatively well off. A widower with no children, he asks Yente to make a match between him and Tzeitel. Though he gets Tevye to agree to the marriage, he is eventually stunned to learn that Tevye goes back on the agreement. He starts an argument over the matter at Tzeitel’s wedding to Motel.

Yente
Yente is the village’s matchmaker. She is a childless widow and meddles in everyone’s business. She arranges the match between Lazar Wolf and Tzeitel and is appalled when Tevye allows her arrangement to fall apart. During the wedding scene, she demonstrates her loyalty to tradition by being one of only two people not to dance. At the end of the play, Yente tells Golde that she is moving to the Holy Land.

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