77 pages 2 hours read

Alan Gratz

Prisoner B-3087

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2013

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Character Analysis

Yanek Gruener

Yanek Gruener is 10 years old at the start of the novel. By the end of the novel he is 16 and has survived the deadliest concentration and death camps of the Holocaust, including Auschwitz. At 10 years old he is an innocent young boy who believes his father’s reassuring words that the war will soon be over. However, as Yanek grows older, he realizes that his father’s words aren’t true. The Nazis’ power is increasing in Kraków, and the Jewish people are being treated worse.

The death of Yanek’s parents creates a turning point in his character. He transitions from a boy who is guided by his parents to a man who must navigate the horrors of the Holocaust by himself. Their death forces him to quickly mature. He uses his father’s words from his bar mitzvah as a guiding light in the darkness of the camps. Despite seeing evil all around him, he tries to commit acts of goodness and kindness for his fellow prisoners. This is demonstrated when he befriends Fred, helps the boy walk during the death march, and stands with the boy during his makeshift bar mitzvah.

Yanek is a character who is defined by his determination to survive.