Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 470
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.
Musyne (mew-ZEEN), a dancer and prostitute, another of Ferdinand’s mistresses.
Madame Hérote (ay-ROHT), a Parisian lingerie-glove-bookshop keeper and a prostitute.
Doctor Bestombes (bay-TOHMB), a psychiatrist in a mental hospital.
Roger Puta (roh-ZHAY pew-TAH), a jeweler for whom Ferdinand works before the war; during the war, he is a driver for a cabinet minister.
Lieutenant Grappa (grah-PAH), a brutal officer in charge of Topo station in Africa.
Molly, an American prostitute in Detroit; Ferdinand is briefly in love with her.
The Abbé Protiste
The Abbé Protiste (proh-TEEST), a priest who arranges for Léon and Madame Henrouille to set up a little business in Toulouse, showing mummies in a crypt to tourists.
Tania (tahn-YAH), a Polish friend of Ferdinand whose lover dies in Berlin.
Doctor Baryton (bah-ree-TOH[N]), a psychiatrist who operates a madhouse, becomes mad about English (which he learns from Ferdinand and from reading Macaulay), and rushes off to England and other lands, leaving the madhouse in Ferdinand’s charge.
Doctor Serge Parapine
Doctor Serge Parapine (sehrzh pah-rah-PEEN), a medical researcher later employed as a staff physician at Baryton’s asylum; a friend of Ferdinand.
The Henrouilles (ahn-ROO-ee), a Parisian family for whom Ferdinand performs various medical services.
Bébert (bay-BEHR), a young boy, a patient of Ferdinand, who dies of typhoid fever.
Gustave Mandamour (gew-STAHV mah[n]-dah-MEWR), a traffic policeman, a friend of Ferdinand and Leon.
Sophie (soh-FEE), a voluptuous Slovak nurse hired by Ferdinand; he is fascinated by her.