Thomas Dilbin, the shy, young narrator of his boyhood in a remote corner of Lithuania. An only child left by his parents to live with his grandparents, Thomas is lonely and consoles himself with the wonders of sky, river, and forest that surround him. His environment is a wondrous one in which pagan traditions still hold prominence under a Catholic surface. He soon realizes, however, that his heritage as a member of a Polish landowning family has set him apart from his own countrymen, zealous for the liberation of Lithuania and increasingly hostile to those whom they consider their oppressors.
Casimir Surkont, Thomas’ grandfather. Although a member of the Polish gentry, he eschews the traditional occupations of hunting and riding to concentrate on his garden. A lover of peace, he is criticized frequently for his tolerance of and sympathies toward the Lithuanians.
Baltazar, a forester on lands belonging to the Surkonts. Tortured by his senseless killing of a soldier and driven by a black, incoherent dissatisfaction that is destroying his life, Baltazar turns to drink. His manic outbursts and sporadic violence cause others to believe that he is possessed by a devil. In a final act of demonic rage, he destroys all that he has worked for and forces his neighbors to hunt him down.
Romuald Bukowski (ROHM-wahld bew-KOW-skee), Thomas’ idol and initiator into the world of the forest. Thomas tries to imitate him in all ways, and his failure to duplicate the hunter’s prowess is the first great tragedy of his young life. At first, Romuald is flattered...
(The entire section is 724 words.)