The Quest for Christa T. Characters

Christa Wolf

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

The narrator

The narrator, a female writer who lives in East Germany and who attempts to write a biography of her late friend, Christa T. The narrator is in her late thirties. She was very close to her friend, and, upon the latter’s death, she believes that she must do something so that her memory will not be lost. She has a number of the friend’s papers, letters, and notes, as well as her own and others’ memories. As a writer, however, she is well aware of the distortions that writing can create and that her memories ultimately are subjective and may falsify the truth of Christa T.’s life.

Christa T.

Christa T., a woman who attempts to realize her sense of individual identity within the context of a socialist society. She dies of leukemia at the age of thirty-five. She was born in a small village in the eastern part of Germany and spent her adolescent years during the period of World War II. The narrator first met Christa when she was a sixteen-year-old girl at the Hermann Goering School in the town of Friedeberg. Early in life, Christa was an individualist and wanted to become a writer. After the end of the war, she chose to live in the newly created German Democratic Republic and became an idealistic socialist, committed to the creation of a just and humane society. In the course of her life, however, she came to realize that human nature is not so easily changed, and she often struggled with the problem of...

(The entire section is 480 words.)

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The narrator and Christa T. come into being through a kind of dialogue that the narrator-writer creates with her readers. There is an element of autobiography in the narrator’s book. Christa Wolf has said that the impetus for the novel was the death of someone close to her who died too young. She wrote the novel as a search for some means to “defend herself” against this death, as a kind of discovery. This reaching toward understanding is the major characteristic to be discerned in the character of the narrator. The German Nachdenken does not literally translate as “quest” but rather as “a thinking toward” or “a thinking in accordance with.” The narrator is involved in this process by writing the memoir of Christa T. It is a kind of identification that allows her to accept her subject’s life as fully lived and to understand the significance of her life.

The narrator is delineated by her reactions to and her reflections upon Christa’s character. As a young girl, she is initially attracted to Christa’s spontaneity and candid opinions, unclouded by any ideological cant. She retains her affection for her friend as a university student but is critical of her seeming irresponsibility and headlong passions. When Christa becomes a teacher, the narrator describes the responsibility she has for her students to become humanized and inquiring as a responsibility she takes perhaps too seriously and somewhat naively. Later, the narrator worries...

(The entire section is 477 words.)