The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness


Simon Wiesenthal

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The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness Characters


Simon is the protagonist and author of The Sunflower. Simon’s story focuses primarily on one encounter he had with a dying Nazi soldier, Karl. Simon provides little to no background information about himself… read analysis of Simon


The other principal character in The Sunflower and a Nazi soldier. When Simon meets Karl, he is bandaged from head to toe and dying in a makeshift hospital due to injuries he sustained when a… read analysis of Karl

Karl’s Mother

A devout Catholic, Karl’s mother objected to Karl joining the Hitler Youth and the SS, but she retained her love for him even when he went to war, unlike Karl’s father, who refused… read analysis of Karl’s Mother


Simon’s old friend who lives with him in the concentration camp. Arthur is cynical and bitter towards the Germans, and like Simon, his faith in God has been damaged. For this reason, he sometimes becomes… read analysis of Arthur


Another of Simon’s friends in the camp. He is a businessman but Simon jokingly calls him “rabbi” because of his strong faith, which sometimes upsets Arthur. Like the others, Josek believes that Simon could… read analysis of Josek
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A young Polish man who had been studying to be a Catholic priest before his imprisonment. Simon meets Bolek at his final concentration camp, Mauthausen, over two years after his encounter with Karl. Simon… read analysis of Bolek


A six-year-old boy with whom Simon had become acquainted in the Lemberg ghetto before Simon was moved to the camps. Eli has a keen sense of survival, picking up crumbs from windowsills that had been… read analysis of Eli
Minor Characters
Another of Simon’s friends in the camps. Like Arthur, Adam is cynical and is glad to hear of Karl’s death. Simon reveals that Adam also died in the camps. He had sprained his ankle, and when a guard noticed him limping, he was shot.
The nurse
A woman who works at the makeshift hospital. When Karl asks her to find a Jew who will listen to his confession, she finds Simon. The next day, after Karl’s death, she tries to give Simon Karl’s possessions, though Simon refuses to take them.
Karl’s father
A Social Democrat who ardently opposed Hitler and his son Karl’s involvement in the Nazi party. He refused to speak to Karl up until his death in a factory bombing.