The Gates of the Forest Characters

Elie Wiesel

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Gregor, whose real name is Gavriel. He is an orphaned seventeen-year-old Hungarian Jew who successfully escaped the Nazis during World War II. Clever and resourceful, and entirely committed to the underground partisan movement in Hungary, Gregor is both a loyal friend and someone who elicits intense love and loyalty in others. He is introspective and philosophical, a young man who has learned to love solitude and night, and not to live “outside his body.” As a result, he develops great resourcefulness in his quest for survival. In each of the four sections of the book, Gregor narrowly escapes capture while many of the people whom he loves and respects are lost. He shares his refuge in a cave with Gavriel; he plays the part of a deaf-mute nephew of the family’s old Christian housekeeper, Maria; and he works as a Jewish partisan acting the role of the anti-Semitic Christian lover of Clara, a fellow partisan. Finally, years later, he faces his future as a New York City newspaper writer locked in a less-than-successful marriage with Clara. He acquires strength and self-awareness after a private audience with the Rebbe, the spiritual leader of the Hasidim in Brooklyn, and after a mysterious conversation with Gavriel in the hall of the Hasidim.


Gavriel, the enigmatic Jew who lives with Gregor for several days in a cave in a forest in Hungary. About thirty years old, taller than Gregor, and slightly...

(The entire section is 571 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Sources for Further Study

Berger, Alan L. Review of The Judges, by Elie Wiesel. Shofar 21, no. 3 (Spring, 2003): 151-153.

Bosmajian, Hamida. Sparing the Child: Grief and the Unspeakable in Youth Literature About Nazism and the Holocaust. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Freedman, Samuel G. “Bearing Witness.” The New York Times, October 23, 1983, p. A32.

Kokkola, Lydia. Representing the Holocaust in Children’s Literature. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Kolbert, Jack. The Worlds of Elie Wiesel: An Overview of His Career and His Major Themes. Selinsgrove, Pa.: Susquehanna University Press, 2001.

May, Jill P. “The Impossible Legacy: Identity and Purpose in Autobiographical Children’s Literature Set in the Third Reich and the Second World War.” Shofar 19, no. 3 (April 30, 2001): 165-168.

Rosen, Alan, ed. Celebrating Elie Wiesel: Stories, Essays, Reflections. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1998.

Wiesel, Elie, and Richard D. Heffner. Conversations with Elie Wiesel. Edited by Thomas J. Vinciguerra. New York: Schocken Books, 2001.

Williams, Thomas. “Wiesel: A Holocaust Survivor Turns Horror into Art.” Chicago Tribune, March 24, 1985, p. 35.