Pedro Sánchez (PEH-droh SAHN-chehs), a provincial. Ignorant of the world outside his native region, he sets out for Madrid. He finds a job on the antigovernment newspaper El Clarín, where he wins a certain notoriety for criticism of a literary work by a member of the opposition; eventually, he catches the revolutionary fever of his fellow employees. When the government is overthrown, Pedro is rewarded with a provincial governorship, and he marries Clara. From this time on, his fortunes decline. Finally, he returns to his native mountains, where he writes the story of his disillusionment.
Augusto Valenzuela (ow-GEWS-toh vahl-ehn-SWEH-lah), a shady politician who promises Pedro Sánchez that he will see to his future when the boy comes to Madrid. He gives Pedro a cold reception when he presents himself in the city.
Clara (KLAHR-ah), Augusto Valenzuela’s daughter, who is later Pedro Sánchez’ extravagant and faithless first wife.
Serafín Balduque (sehr-ah-FEEN bahl-DEW-keh), Pedro Sánchez’ friend, a former state employee who is killed in street fighting against government forces.
Carmen, Serafín Balduque’s daughter and Pedro Sánchez’ second wife, who, with their small son, dies during an epidemic.
Mata (MAH-tah), also called Matica (mah-TEE-kah), a student who befriends Pedro Sánchez when he arrives in Madrid and finds him a job on El Clarín.
Redondo (rreh-DOHN-doh), the editor of El Clarín.
Pilita (pee-LEE-tah), the wife of Augusto Valenzuela.
Barrientos (bah-rree-EHN-tohs), Governor Pedro Sánchez’ secretary, who is a collector of bribes and the lover of Pedro’s wife Clara.