Rafael's parents died suddenly, stranded in a winter storm, when he was fifteen, and he has lived alone on their ranch on the llano ever since. Whenever he goes to the nearest town, Las Animas, people respect his desire to be left alone, believing that the silence of the llano has taken his soul, as it threatens to do to everyone. Other people come to town for a respite from the silence, but Rafael only comes for provisions and then quickly leaves. He eventually marries a young woman from the village, a woman who also lost her parents when she was young, and she brings sound and joy back into his life on the llano. However, when she dies after giving birth to their child, he no longer cares if he lives or dies. He blames his baby daughter for killing her mother and proceeds to ignore her existence entirely.
Doña Rufina is the midwife who delivers the baby girl, cares for her while her father is away, and raises the little girl until she, herself, dies seven years later. She teaches the girl that Rafael is her father and how to cook, clean, bathe, and so on.
Rafael's wife, Rita
Rita is Rafael's wife, though we do not learn that this was her name until near the very end of the story. She is beautiful, kind, and adds vibrancy to Rafael's life after years of silence. She makes the trees and garden on their property grow with her care. She is, in every way, the perfect wife to Rafael, and he adores her. When she dies, he is shattered.
Rafael's daughter, Rita
Rafael's daughter has no name until she reaches the age of sixteen; only then does her father give her her mother's name, Rita. She was ignored by her father nearly her entire life, which led to his failure to care for her safety, which left her vulnerable to rape by strangers in her own home. She has always cooked and cleaned for Rafael, and she continues to do so even after she has been brutalized as a result of his negligence. She has also been working to revive her mother's garden to no avail. Her father gives her her mother's name, finally, after her attack, when he realizes how similar the two women are.