Wang Lung, an ambitious farmer who sees in the land the only sure source of livelihood. At the end of his life, however, his third son has left the land to be a soldier, and his first and second sons callously plan to sell the land and go to the city as soon as Wang dies.
O-Lan, a slave bought by Wang’s father to marry Wang. She works hard in their small field with Wang; during the civil war, she loots in order to get money to buy more land. She dies in middle age of a stomach illness.
Nung En, their oldest son, who, when he covets his father’s concubine, Lotus Blossom, is married to the grain merchant Liu’s daughter.
Nung Wen, their second son, apprenticed to Liu.
The Fool, their retarded daughter.
Liu, a grain merchant in the town.
The Uncle, who brings his wife and shiftless son to live on Wang’s farm. Secretly a lieutenant of a robber band, he also brings protection.
Lotus Blossom, Wang Lung’s concubine, who is refused entrance into the house by O-Lan.
Ching, a neighbor hired by Wang Lung as overseer.
Pear Blossom, a pretty slave taken by Wang after the death of his wife.