List of Characters

Trond Sanders—narrator, both as a fifteen-year-old and as a sixty-year-old grandfather.

Trond’s father—pivotal character not given a name, but referred to as “father” throughout.

Trond’s mother—minor character not given a name.

Trond’s sister—very minor character not given a name.

Ellen—Trond’s daughter who finds him, close to the end of the novel, living in the small cabin in eastern Norway.

Jon Haug—friend of Trond’s when Trond is a fifteen-year-old during the summer of 1948.

Jon’s mother—lover of Trond’s father, not given a name.

Jon’s father—Dies in hospital after breaking his leg, not given a name.

Lars Haug—surviving twin, younger brother of Jon and a neighbor of Trond’s when Trond is an old man.

Odd Haug—Lars Haug’s twin who died from gunshot.

Franz—friend of Trond’s father, who tells Trond about his father’s experiences during the war.

Barkald—well-to-do farmer and sawmill owner.

Lyra—Trond’s dog and only companion in his old age.

Character Analysis

The narrator of this story, Trond Sander, has a gentle and introspective voice. He observes life non-judgmentally, watching what people do and even reacting but never condemning that person or their actions. He merely soaks it all in, although he does sometimes question things. His questions, however, are more geared to helping him understand human nature and the place he will one day hold in the adult world.

Trond is not a weak boy, but he is somewhat naïve and inexperienced at fifteen. During much of his adventures that summer in 1948 with his father, he is learning about his own nature. He tends to whine to himself about some of the hardships that befall him, such as being bucked from the horse he is out “stealing.” His first reaction to pain is that he is dying or at least massively wounded. However, as the novel progresses, Trond grows both physically and emotionally. He learns to understand his father’s love for him without needing to confirm his emotions with words. He comes to appreciate his father’s attributes, which include thoroughness in completing projects, toughness in facing physical challenges, and commitment to doing what he believes is best for him and those around him.

Although Trond has questions, he seldom brings them up. It is as if he assumes life will eventually answer these questions for him. He does not question his father’s relationship with Jon’s mother. Nor does he ask his father why he is not going home with him. He assumes he might be too young to understand the answers even if they were given to him. Trond does not ask Franz, his father’s neighbor, to tell him about his father’s past, although he is curious about this.

It is Trond’s father who asks Franz to talk to Trond. This third-party system represents most of the relationships in the novel. Things are seldom explained directly. Much is insinuated,...

(The entire section is 646 words.)