José Amaro (zhew-ZAY ah-MAH-rew), a crippled saddlemaker. Embittered by his failures, he hides his sense of inferiority and his cowardice under a cloak of scorn, especially for the district’s wealthy plantation owners. Finally, disillusioned in his fight against the aristocrats, deserted by his family, and friendless, he commits suicide.
Antonio Silvino (ahn-TOH-nyew seel-VEE-new), a bandit who inspires the admiration but later the disillusionment of José Amaro.
Captain Victorino Carneiro da Cunha
Captain Victorino Carneiro da Cunha (veek-toh-REE-new kahr-NAY-rew dah KEWN-yah), a penniless lawyer who is connected with the best families but censures their misuse of power. Regardless of the cost to himself, he fights courageously against cruelty and injustice.
Colonel Lula César de Holanda Chacón
Colonel Lula César de Holanda Chacón (LEW-lah see-ZUR deh oh-LAHN-dah shah-KOHN), the owner of the Santa Fe sugar plantation. Deserted by his emancipated black slaves because of his cruel treatment in the past, Holanda Chacón sees his sugar refinery doomed to become a place of dead fires.
Colonel José Paulino
Colonel José Paulino (pow-LEE-new), the owner of the Santa Clara plantation. Paulino’s humane treatment of his field hands causes Santa Clara to prosper in contrast to doomed Santa Fe.
Leandro (lay-AHN-drew), a kindly black hunter and friend of Amaro.
Sinha (SEE-nyah), Amaro’s wife.
Lieutenant Mauricio (mow-REE-syew), a cruel army officer.
Captain Tomás Cabral de Malo
Captain Tomás Cabral de Malo (toh-MAHS kuh-BRAHL deh MAH-lew), the father-in-law of Holanda Chacón.
Quinca Napoleon (KEEN-kuh), the prefect of Pilar, a victim of Silvino.
Laurentino (low-RAYN-tee-new), a house painter and neighbor of Amaro.
Floripes (floh-REE-pehs), the black overseer of the Santa Fe plantation and an enemy of Amaro.
Torcuato (tohr-KWAH-tew), a blind man accused of being a spy and beaten by Lieutenant Mauricio.