The main character is Kino. Kino is an aboriginal in Baja California. He is a fisherman, and he lives in a brush hut in a village by the sea with his wife Juana and their baby Coyotito. Kino feels a deep connection to the past. Heritage is very important to him. He loves his wife and child, and considers his role as provider important. Masculinity is important to him.
Kino has a violent temper, as evidenced by his reaction to the scorpion who bit his son.
Then, snarling, Kino had it, had it in his fingers, rubbing it to a paste in his hands. He threw it down and beat it into the earth floor with his fist, and Coyotito screamed with pain in his box. But Kino beat and stamped the enemy until it was only a fragment and a moist place in the dirt. (Ch. 1)
Kino continues to attack the scorpion long after there is no value in doing so. Kino is a passionate man. When Juana wants to take Coyotito to the doctor and the doctor refuses them for not having money, he gets angry again and punches the gate, injuring his hand. It is another useless angry gesture of hopelessness.
Juana is Kino’s steadfast mate. She is always there for him. Her eyes are open as soon as his are in the morning. She takes care of him and their son, making them breakfast. When the scorpion attacks, she says prayers in old magic and sucks the poison out while her husband hovers helplessly by.
But Juana had the baby in her arms now. She found the puncture with redness starting from it already. She put her lips down over the puncture and sucked hard and spat and sucked again while Coyotito screamed. (Ch. 1)
Unlike Kino, who lashes out in helpless anger, Juana acts in a mixture of practicality and hopefulness. She believes in the old magic, yet she calls for a doctor. Both of these are acts of dreaming, because neither are likely to help. Yet at the same time she takes practical action in sucking out the poison.
The doctor is another important character in this chapter. He represents the colonial establishment. The people of the village know the doctor.
And they knew the doctor. They knew his ignorance, his cruelty, his avarice, his appetites, his sins. They knew his clumsy abortions and the little brown pennies he gave sparingly for alms. They had seen his corpses go into the church. (Ch. 1)
To him, the Indians are animals. He refuses to treat Kino because he doesn’t have money. He considers himself above all of them, and couldn’t care less that a baby is sick.