Pascal Rougon (pahs-KAHL rew-GOHN), a dedicated and selfless doctor interested in heredity. Using experimental methods, he is, to his mother’s dismay, using the members of his family as the field for his investigations. Feeling betrayed by the family’s efforts to destroy his files, Dr. Pascal fails in health. He is temporarily restored by a love affair with Clotilde but later suffers a heart attack and dies, after which the records of his research are destroyed.
Clotilde (kloh-TEELD), Pascal Rougon’s niece. Living in quiet happiness with Dr. Pascal and Martine, a growing religious conviction causes her to try to persuade Pascal to destroy his files on heredity. Urged by Dr. Ramond to marry him, she realizes that Pascal is the one she loves, and she becomes his mistress. She bears his child after his death.
Félicité Rougon (fay-lee-see-TAY), Dr. Pascal’s mother. Ashamed because her son is not the kind of successful physician she wishes him to be, and terrified lest his papers on heredity fall into the hands of strangers, she continually seeks ways to destroy his files. She succeeds in this design immediately after Dr. Pascal’s death.
Martine (mahr-TEEN), Dr. Pascal’s devoted housekeeper.
Dr. Ramond (reh-MOH[N]), Dr. Pascal’s friend and Clotilde’s suitor.
Maxime (mahk-SEEM), Clotilde’s dissolute brother.