Louis-Ferdinand Céline (lwee-fehr-dee-NAH[N] say-LEEN), the narrator in all three novels; in this one, he focuses on his first adventures as he flees France, threatened with prosecution for collaborating with the Germans. His training as a medical doctor serves as a passport to hoped-for safety. Embittered by misfortune, he relentlessly attacks his perceived persecutors, seeing himself as a martyr, hated because he dares to tell the truth—that humankind is depraved and doomed.
Lili (lee-LEE), Céline’s wife and constant companion, carrying their cat, safe and fed, in a small case. Brave and generous, she possesses a mysterious female strength that sustains him in their journey.
Le Vigan (vee-GAH[N]), a popular French actor who accompanies Céline through Germany, acting the clown to divert hostile crowds and serving as Céline’s confidant until almost the end of the journey.
Harras, a physician in the German army and Céline’s friend. He gives the three exiles refuge in the town of Zornhof. Harras’ jolly spirit masks a shrewd, practical intelligence, and his guidance and generosity are invaluable to Céline. Although he helps his friend get to Denmark, he himself comes to a bad end....
(The entire section is 504 words.)