Ferdinand Bardamu (fehr-dee-NAH[N] bahr-dah-MEW), a war-wounded, disillusioned, cynical neurotic and a rogue. Successively a medical student, soldier, mental patient, pimp, flea expert, Ford worker, doctor, music-hall supernumerary, and administrator of a madhouse, he undergoes experiences that would tax the strongest constitution and the sanest mind. In his restless shifting from one job to another and from one locale to another, he resembles not only the rogues of picaresque fiction but also his creator, Ferdinand Céline.
Léon Robinson (lay-OH[N]), his friend, an unscrupulous cynic who turns up, like a personal demon, everywhere Ferdinand goes. The planner of the bombing of old Madame Henrouille, he is temporarily blinded by his own bomb. He is later killed by Madelon.
Madelon (mahd-LOH[N]), an attractive young woman of easy morals. Engaged to Leon, she becomes insanely jealous when he attempts to get rid of her; and after threatening to inform the police of his murder of Madame Henrouille, she shoots him in a rage and flees.
Lola, an American Red Cross worker who becomes Ferdinand’s mistress in France and who later permits him to live with her for a time after he comes to New York....
(The entire section is 470 words.)