Ida Ramundo (EE-dah rah-MEWN-doh), a widow and schoolteacher, the mother of two children. After the death of her mother, she discovers that she is half Jewish. She is frail and timid, and her life is a daily battle against a threatening and aggressive world. Her general sense of estrangement from society is exacerbated by her suffering from occasional epilepsy-like seizures. Impressionable and imaginative, she is also quite prone to troubling and powerful dreams that continue to haunt her during her waking hours. She worries about her teenage son, but her greatest concern is the care of her infant boy, the product of her rape by a German soldier. She becomes tenacious and unrelenting in her support of his well-being. Her life during the war becomes a constant struggle against the very visible enemies of deportation, hunger, and aggression.
Nino Mancuso (NEE-noh), Ida’s teenage son. From the beginning, he shows a reckless disposition and a rebelliousness against any rule or form of constraint. Self-absorbed and egotistical, he has an endearing and carefree quality that he uses to manipulate others. Irresistibly attracted to glamour and adventure, he throws himself wholeheartedly and unquestioningly into various activities, only to become bored or to find something else more enticing. He involves himself...
(The entire section is 507 words.)