The Age of Reason, 1945
Mathieu Delarue (mah-TYEW deh-lah-REW), Marcelle’s lover, a philosophy teacher in Paris. During a visit to Marcelle, he learns that she is pregnant. He decides to raise the money to pay for an abortion, which is illegal in this place and time. Mathieu asks both his friend Daniel and his brother Jacques for the money, but they refuse. He meets his old friend Brunet, who asks him to become a communist. Mathieu refuses. He is enamored of Ivich, a young woman. He takes her to an art gallery to view the paintings of Paul Gauguin. Later, he meets her, her brother Boris, and his mistress Lola in a nightclub. After Ivich stabs herself in the hand, Mathieu repeats her gesture. The following day, he meets with Boris, who thinks Lola has died, and agrees to retrieve Boris’ letters from Lola’s apartment. He is tempted to steal Lola’s money, but she awakens. Later that night, however, he returns and steals the money, which he then gives to Marcelle for her abortion.
Boris Serguine (sehr-GEEN), the brother of Ivich, lover of Lola, son of Russian emigrants, and protégé of Mathieu. He hangs out in nightclubs where Lola, a much older woman, sings. After spending the night with her in her apartment, he wakes up and mistakenly concludes that she is dead; she is only in a deep sleep induced by drugs. He flees, meets Mathieu, and persuades Mathieu to retrieve his letters from Lola’s apartment.
Daniel Sereno, a homosexual friend of Mathieu. When Mathieu visits him and asks for money for Marcelle’s abortion, he refuses, although he can afford it. After cruising an arcade that serves as a meeting place for homosexuals, he visits Marcelle and persuades her to keep the baby. When Mathieu refuses to marry Marcelle, Daniel marries her. He then returns Lola’s money.
Ivich Serguine (ee-VEECH), Boris’ sister, a student. She believes she has failed her final examination. Sitting in a nightclub with Mathieu, she stabs herself in the hand to shock a nearby couple.
The Reprieve, 1945
Mathieu Delarue, who is now a reservist in the French army. He is vacationing on the French Riviera with his brother and sister-in-law when the Munich Crisis of 1938 begins. Although he is called up to serve in the army, he delays reporting so that he can see his friend Gomez. They meet in Marseilles. Mathieu then returns to Paris for one night and has a fling with a woman he meets on the street. The morning afterward, he departs to join his army unit and partially reads a letter from Daniel before destroying it.
Boris Serguine, who has returned to Lola and is traveling with her while she tours the country singing at various nightclubs. He follows the events of the Munich Crisis on the radio and makes friends with the patrons of the clubs. He looks forward to the war as a way of getting rid of Lola.
Daniel Sereno, who is vacationing in the countryside with his bride Marcelle but is still attracted to young men.
Ivich Serguine, who marries a rich young man she despises.
Gomez, a Spanish painter and general in the Spanish Loyalist army. He is on leave in France. After visiting his family in Paris, he stops in Marseilles to see Mathieu. He is back in Spain when the Munich agreement is...
(The entire section is 850 words.)