The father, or Papa (unnamed)
The story is told through the viewpoint of this man, whose preoccupation in life is to keep his son alive in a post-nuclear landscape.
The boy (unnamed)
Born after the bombs destroyed much of civilization, he has lived his entire life in the wasteland of a nuclear winter. He travels with his father and grows each day in perception and courage.
The wife (unnamed)
Not a part of the current story line, she died before the novel begins. She was mother to the boy, and it is hinted that she chose to take her own life rather than to live in the dreary and dangerous world in which they were struggling to survive.
The father and son run across this man on the road. He is a survivor, like them, but barely alive, and appears to have "been struck by lightning."
The father and son run across this man on the road and stay with him for a while before moving on. He alludes to other survivors, but he is suspicious and wary of other people and questions.
Barbarian in the Bushes
This man stumbles upon the father and son in the bushes, and attempts to grab the boy. He is a cannibal, one of a group that survives by hunting and eating other humans.
This man tries to steal the father and son's supplies while they are out exploring. The father forces him to return their goods.
The Small Boy
The son imagines he sees a small boy running and hiding from them on the road during their travels.
The father and son run across numerous victims of both the war and the barbaric crowds of survivors. As they travel, they discover bodies of those burned by the bombs and eaten by cannibals.
The Unnamed Man
This man helps the son near the end of the novel, and it is hinted that he takes the boy into his own family.