Characters

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 732

Block Block is one of the narrator’s fellow fighters in the battle; he enters the story carrying flowers, bread, and weapons. The narrator calls him ‘‘friendly, kind, [and] enthusiastic.’’ Block shares information about the battle, noting that the narrator’s troops hold various parts of the city but that the ‘‘situation...

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Block
Block is one of the narrator’s fellow fighters in the battle; he enters the story carrying flowers, bread, and weapons. The narrator calls him ‘‘friendly, kind, [and] enthusiastic.’’ Block shares information about the battle, noting that the narrator’s troops hold various parts of the city but that the ‘‘situation is liquid.’’ He also assures the narrator that Sylvia does not love Kenneth, only his coat.

Captured Comanche
After being tortured by the narrator’s troops, the captured Comanche reveals that his name is Gustave Aschenbach. He was born at ‘‘L—, a country town in the province of Silesia,’’ a region in Eastern Europe currently shared by Poland and the Czech Republic. His father was a judicial official and all of his relatives were government officials, according to the narrator.

Jane
Jane is one of the narrator’s friends. Early in the story, the narrator hears that Jane has been beaten up by a dwarf in a bar, and later he comments that this event doesn’t sound like something she would be involved in. On one occasion, the narrator reflects upon Jane’s affair with a married man, Harold, and questions her ‘‘values.’’ According to the narrator, Jane is attractive and desirable; he describes her leg as ‘‘tasty and nice-looking.’’

Kenneth
Kenneth is one of the narrator’s compatriots in the war. He owns a large coat that Sylvia likes, but Block assures the narrator that this does not mean that she is in love with Kenneth. Kenneth mentions at one point that he would like be Jean-Luc Godard, a French film director who was prominent during the 1960s for his nontraditional and nonlinear approach to telling a story through film.

Narrator
The narrator, while never named in the story, is a leader of the troops trying to prevent the Comanches from taking over the city. He is in love with Sylvia but has lived with a large number of other women at various times in his life; he mentions Nancy, Alice, Eunice, and Marianne. There is a sense that he struggles in his relationships with women and may even have employed violence in these relationships; at the end of the story, he says, ‘‘the sickness of the quarrel lay thick in the bed. I touched your back, the white raised scars.’’ He is also involved in violence when he participates in torturing the captured Comanche.

His friends urge him to see Miss R. for instruction in an unspecified subject. He tries to remain impassive when she belittles him, but he admits that he finds it exciting when she pushes him into a room where he knows people will be watching the two of them during his instruction.

Miss R.
Miss R. is an ‘‘unorthodox’’ teacher, somewhat plain in appearance and abrupt in her language. Her office is sparsely furnished and has no books. The narrator’s friends suggest that he seek out her services, as she is ‘‘successful with difficult cases.’’ While it is not exactly clear what she is teaching the narrator, she treats him with disdain and physically pushes him around. She tells him that he knows ‘‘nothing’’ and dictates the topics he may discuss and how he may speak of them.

Miss R. appears to be on the same side of the battle as the narrator until the end of the story, when she reveals that she is with the Comanches. At this point she announces to the narrator, ‘‘This is the Clemency Committee,’’ asks for his belt and his shoelaces, and makes him a prisoner of the Comanches.

Sylvia
Sylvia is the narrator’s girlfriend and a film actress who has appeared naked in her films. The narrator loves Sylvia and desires her presence on a number of occasions during the battle.

Sylvia eventually betrays the narrator, running to the side of the Comanches during the battle. On one occasion, though, the narrator is confused when he sees Sylvia wearing a long, blue muffler, an accessory that typically signifies to the narrator ‘‘the girls of my quarter.’’ He calls out to Sylvia, ‘‘What side are you on . . . after all?’’ Later, she mentions to the narrator that he gave her heroin ‘‘first a year ago.’’ This is related to the fact that the narrator’s side sent heroin into the ghettos when they found out that the residents were beginning to side with the Comanches.

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