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Bernard V. O'Hare is the narrator's war buddy who accompanies him on his trip back to the slaughterhouse where they took shelter from the Dresden firebombing. He seems to be in the story pretty much as a support to the narrator's own thought processes—he's a sounding board.
It is by interacting with O'Hare that the narrator encounters (a) the guy's wife, Mary, to whom the novel is dedicated; (b) Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, which tells the narrator about the Children's Crusade; (c) Dresden, History, Stage, and Gallery, which describes not only the city pre-World War II, but also a previous bombing siege Dresden underwent in 1760; and (d) some key facts about world population and human dignity at the end of the novel.