Presley, a writer. He has dark brown eyes; the forehead of an intellectual; a mouth and chin that suggest a delicate, sensitive nature; and the temperament of a poet. Thirty years old, he has come to Los Muertos to improve his health and, he hopes, to write verse. In looking for the great theme of the West around which to write his epic poem, he gets caught up in the contest between the railroad and the wheat farmers. Presley writes “The Toilers” and acquires literary fame, but he becomes convinced that “forces,” not people, control events.
Magnus Derrick, also known as the Governor, the owner of Los Muertos Ranch. He is close to sixty years old, is six feet tall, and has iron-gray hair. His commanding presence and sense of dignity, along with his prior experience as a politician, make him a natural leader and the most prominent man in the valley. A gambler willing to risk all, he allows his ambition for power and wealth to compromise his principles and bring about his ruin.
S. Behrman, a banker, real estate agent, and representative of the P&SW Railroad. A fat, heavy-jowled individual, he wears a vest with pearl buttons, a watch chain, and a stiff straw hat. Placid and unruffled, he never loses his temper. He wins every confrontation with the wheat ranchers’ league until he literally drowns in his own wheat.
Annixter, also known as Buck, the owner of the Quien Sabe Ranch. He is young and extremely intelligent, with stiff yellow hair and a lean frame. Rough, direct, argumentative, and stubborn, the hardworking, self-reliant Annixter is determined to defeat the railroad. His natural combativeness makes him an assertive member of the ill-fated league. Deeply in love with Hilma, he is discovering the meaning of his own life when he is tragically killed in the gunfight at the irrigation ditch.
Harran Derrick, the youngest son of Magnus Derrick and the manager of Los...
(The entire section is 847 words.)