Misha Pilsudski/Milgrom, “a little child of indeterminate age and background” is a small, cute, short orphan boy who survives by using his size and quickness to steal food and escape danger. Through most of the novel Misha has no recollection of a past and “much less an understanding of the world around him.” He spends time with his friend Janina and a group of homeless boys.
Uri is a “scrappy, slightly older boy” who acts as a ringleader for Misha and the other smugglers. Described as ”fearless on the streets,” Uri often helps Misha escape danger. One critic compared Uri to the infamous Fagan, a character in the novel Oliver Twist. Unlike Misha and the other orphans, Uri does not live in the ghetto but is found at the blue camel, the place where Jackboots live. Later become Jackboot, and shoots Misha.
Janina Milgrom is a small young girl who gets frustrated, upset, and pushy frequently throughout the novel. She is “[a] fiery young friend” of Misha and frequently mimics him. Misha later gives his granddaughter the middle name Janina in memory of his sister.
Doctor Korczak, a bald man with a goatee and mustache, takes care of orphans. He is kind hearted and caring.
Vivian is a “normal, sensible person” who enjoys Misha’s mad sounding talk of his past. Later she marries Misha and lives with him for five months before she leaves, pregnant with his child.
Katherine is a friendly “young woman . . . [with] dark brown hair” who is Misha’s daughter. She is twenty-five years old with a daughter of her own named Wendy. Misha “wasn’t sure” about Katherine when Vivian walked out, until she finds him years later.
Wendy is four years old and is Misha’s granddaughter. She calls Misha “Poppynoodle.”
Mr. Milgrom is Janina’s father. He is a pharmacist who makes medicine, but he stops working a formal job after restrictions are put on Jews.
Uncle Shepsel is Janina’s Uncle who decides that he will convert to Lutheranism so he will no longer be treated as a Jew.
Mrs. Milgrom is Janina’s mother who is sick and dies on her mattress.
Kuba is a boy who Misha calls “the clown.” Has a big obsession with cats
Enos is a “grim-faced” boy.
Ferdi is an orphan boy who Misha calls the “smoke-blowing Ferdi.” When asked questions “[his] answers [are] never long . . . he [blows] more smoke than words.”
Olek is a boy who has one arm. He says a train ran over his arm. He was hung for stealing food.
Big Henryk is a large boy who will “say yes to everything.” He doesn’t wear shoes but instead wears “gray bank coin bags on his feet.”
Jon is a boy who doesn’t speak. Misha sees him as “gray.” He was thrown into the cart of dead bodies and taken away.
Herr Himmler is a head Jackboot who has “half a little black mustache . . . [and] a scrawny neck . . . [and] looks like a chicken...“.
Buffo is a slow, fat man who uses his belly to suffocate children. He chews mint leaves, so his breath always smells minty. Herr Himmler is Buffo's brother.