Grandma Whiteoak, the ninety-nine-year-old matriarch of the family. She tyrannizes her grandchildren, giving them physical blows to enforce her whims.
Renny Whiteoak, eldest of Grandma’s grandchildren. A bachelor, he holds the family together and supervises their farms. While he has power and position, he does not delight in them. He falls in love with his sister-in-law, Alayne, Eden’s wife.
Meg Whiteoak, Renny’s sister. She is unmarried because she broke her engagement to Maurice Vaughan after he had fathered an illegitimate child. Many years later, she forgives and marries him.
Maurice Vaughan, Renny’s friend and former fiancé of Meg. He is the father of the girl known as Pheasant. He eventually marries Meg.
Eden Whiteoak, Renny and Meg’s half brother. He is a dreamer and poet. He marries Alayne Archer, a publisher’s reader from New York. He accuses her of nagging when she tries to encourage his writing. He falls in love with Pheasant and deserts Alayne.
Alayne Archer, Eden’s wife. She is a gentle, helpful woman. She falls in love with Renny but returns to New York to prevent scandal and divorce.
Piers Whiteoak, half brother to Renny and Meg. He is a plodding man who marries Pheasant. He resents Alayne because the family accepts her more readily than they do his wife.
Finch Whiteoak, half brother to Renny and Meg. He is an unambitious young man who finally is encouraged to be a musician by Alayne.
Wakefield Whiteoak, half brother to Renny and Meg. He is a badly spoiled eight-year-old.
Pheasant Vaughan, the illegitimate daughter of Maurice, and Piers’ wife. She makes a play for Eden’s attentions.