Adam Trask, a settler in the Salinas Valley. He marries Cathy Ames in Connecticut and moves west, where he and their twin sons, Caleb and Aron, are deserted by her.
Cathy Ames, Adam Trask’s innocent-appearing but evil wife. Deserting Adam and their twin sons, Caleb and Aron, she becomes the proprietress of a notorious brothel.
Aron Trask, smugly religious, idealistic twin son of Adam Trask and Cathy Ames. Unable to face the knowledge of his parents’ past, he joins the army and is killed in France.
Caleb Trask, impulsive twin son of Adam Trask and Cathy. Rejected in an effort to help his father, he takes revenge by revealing to his brother Aron the secret of their mother’s identity. He later accepts responsibility for the disillusioned Aron’s death.
Abra Bacon, Aron Trask’s fiancée. Disturbed because she feels unable to live up to Aron’s idealistic image of her, she finally turns to the more realistic Caleb Trask.
Charles Trask, Adam Trask’s half brother.
Samuel Hamilton, an early settler in the Salinas Valley.
Liza Hamilton, Samuel Hamilton’s wife.
Lee, Adam Trask’s wise and good Chinese servant.
Faye, proprietress of a Salinas brothel. Her death is engineered by Cathy Ames as she seeks to gain full control of Faye’s establishment.
Will Hamilton, business partner of Caleb Trask.