A Priest, the thirty-year-old cleric of Ambricourt Parish, in France, who strives to be frank with himself. Lonely and sympathetic, a child of poverty, he tries to help his people materially as well as spiritually. He believes the rich have a duty to the poor. His efforts to help his people undermine his health and bring scorn upon him. He fails again and again; only in death does he find peace, believing in God.
Dr. Maxence Delbende
Dr. Maxence Delbende (mahk-SAHNS dehl-BAHND), a thwarted, bitter man. He helps frustrate the priest’s efforts to aid the parish materially. When disappointed at not receiving an expected legacy, he commits suicide.
The Curé de Torcy
The Curé de Torcy (tohr-SEE), the priest’s superior and ideal. He thwarts the priest’s efforts to raise living standards and ridicules the priest for his spiritual and worldly failures.
Seraphita Dumouchel (say-rah-fee-TAH dew-mew-shehl), a sensual girl in the priest’s catechism class. She thrusts unsavory attentions on the priest and spreads the word that he is addicted to drink.
The Count, a local aristocrat. He carries on an affair with the family governess and embitters his family by a series of infidelities over the years.
Mlle Chantal (shahn-TAHL), daughter of the Count and Countess. Upset and filled with hatred, she threatens to kill either herself or the governess with whom her father is having an affair.
The Countess, a woman of atheistic tendencies. With the priest’s help, she dies in spiritual peace, though she is consumed by physical agony.
Mlle Louise, the governess who is the count’s mistress.
M. Dufrety (dew-fruh-TEE), the priest’s seminary friend. He is with the priest at his death.
Dr. Laville (leh-VEEL), a drug addict. He bluntly tells the priest he is dying of stomach cancer. The priest was supposed to go to another doctor, but he consults the wrong physician.