Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 290
The character first introduced as Tod T. Friendly is later known as John Young (in New York), and then Hamilton de Souza (in Portugal), and, finally, his original identity, Odilo Unverdorben. We understand that Unverdorben changed his identity several times, changing location as well, in an effort to distance himself from his past as a doctor at Auschwitz, guilty of thousands of murders. In his later life, he struggles with drug and alcohol abuse.
Irene is the name of the woman with whom Tod has a long, on-again-off-again sexual relationship. He does not tell her the secret of his past. She worked, evidently, as his cleaning lady for some time before they developed an intimate relationship. However, because the narrator sees events in reverse, he believes that Irene actually pays Tod.
Herta is the name of Odilo's wife to whom he was married as a young man in Germany. They were childhood sweethearts who wed when she was just eighteen and he was a medical student. Though she tightly regulated their intimacy during the courtship, after they married, Odilo became controlling and demanding and even abusive (though this is not the way the narrator interprets it). Herta lost a child, a daughter named Eva, and objected to Odilo's "work" in the ghettos and camps.
Uncle Pepi was Odilo's mentor in Auschwitz who was, evidently, modeled after the real-life Josef Mengele who was nicknamed the Angel of Death as a result of his "experiments" on Jews and membership on the team that decided which prisoners would be gassed in Auschwitz.
There are a number of other women, nurses with whom Odilo worked when he was known as Tod and John, and he had intimate relations with a great many of them.
Unlock This Study Guide Now
Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.
- 30,000+ book summaries
- 20% study tools discount
- Ad-free content
- PDF downloads
- 300,000+ answers
- 5-star customer support