T, a dedicated Hungarian Communist. A man in his fifties, he has fought all of his life for a just society. Rejecting the hierarchical system of his family, he risked his life to fight the Nazis, only to be distrusted by his supposed Soviet brothers. In the postwar reorganization, during the brief uprising crushed by the Soviets, and in the following decades, he has gained influence only to lose it because of his intellectual honesty. He has suffered arrest, imprisonment, and torture, and at last been released, only to be once again confined. At the beginning of the novel, he is freed from a mental institution but no longer feels at home in the outside world.
T’s wife, a translator. Seventeen years younger than T, she is small and almost childlike, a bright, exuberant creature. During twenty years of marriage to him, she has kept her capacity for joy and hope. When T becomes incapable of giving himself to her emotionally, however, she leaves him for a young lover.
Dani, T’s younger brother. A dark-bearded, charming man, he has always been mercurial, infatuated with danger but essentially selfish, willing to inform on others, even his brother, to save himself. When his girlfriend blocks his attempt to escape to the West, in frustration he turns on her, killing her and then eventually hanging himself.
Teri, Dani’s girlfriend. A girl with a fair complexion, an appealing mouth, and an insatiable sexual appetite, she is unprincipled and disloyal. Because she cannot bear to lose her power over Dani, she informs on him. He chokes her to death....
(The entire section is 687 words.)