Yasha Mazur, a traveling acrobat and juggler, the protagonist. He is a short man, broad-shouldered, lean, blue-eyed, and clean-shaven, with a narrow chin and a short Slavic nose. He is forty years old but looks ten years younger. Yasha is considered rich by local standards. He is an escape artist and can pick any lock. He is Jewish but agnostic. He visits his wife only on high holidays. The rest of the time, he travels with his show and visits his three mistresses. Yasha is entirely self-taught, and his mother died when he was seven years old. He has many personalities, because there is always another role to play for his mistresses: religious, heretical, good or evil, false, and sincere. Although he is ready to renounce his religion, he cherishes and venerates any page torn from a holy book.
Esther, Yasha’s wife of twenty years. She is forty years old, religious, small, and dark, with a youthful face. She is loyal and devoted to Yasha. She is unable to bear children and is distressed by this inability. She insists on maintaining a Jewish household, and Yasha does not interfere. Although she knows about her husband’s infidelity, she tries to dissuade him from immuring himself. She takes up sewing to support herself and him.
Magda Zbarski, Yasha’s assistant and mistress. She is in her late twenties, swarthy, and flat-chested. She lives with her...
(The entire section is 554 words.)