Last Updated September 5, 2023.
Charles Gaunt is Simon's twin brother. Charles's character falls somewhere in between the severity of Addington and the sensitivity of Simon. Eager to please his father and recover his brother, Charles tries to keep the search party focused but is distracted by a love interest. His vocation somewhat encapsulates his character: he paints and writes poetry, though not exceptionally well. He is, on the whole, average and therefore a good reference point for the reader to size up other characters and events.
The oldest of the Gaunt brothers, Addington is a brutal person driven by petty jealousies and competition. As the book progresses, his behavior devolves; his erratic and violent episodes lead him closer and closer to his own downfall. His vanity is evident from the onset, as he hires a journalist to chronicle his exploits in the American West—despite the fact that it is essentially a rescue mission to recover his younger brother Simon.
Twin brother to Charles, Simon is portrayed as a spiritual, gentle, and extremely impressionable person. He initially follows a preacher to the American West in order to "convert" Native Americans to Christianity; once he is there, however, he allows himself to be adopted by a two-spirit Native American leader, entering into Native American society and refusing to leave.
Jerry Potts is a half-Blackfoot Native American, half-Scottish guide who leads the Gaunt party where their brother Simon was last seen. Jerry is a fair but troubled individual who serves as a potent metaphor for the conflicts of the American West itself. In a time characterized by uncertain terrains and clashing cultures, Jerry is both a keeper of local knowledge and person wrestling with the significance of his multicultural identity.
Caleb Ayto is a journalist Addington hires to record his adventures in the American West. Caleb is a sly opportunist and a flatterer. He always defers to Addington, fanning the flames of Addington's already boisterous vanity.
Lucy Stoveall is the subject of much love and infatuation in the book. She joins the party to hunt down two men she believes sexually assaulted and killed her younger sister. Though she is driven by rage, she becomes distracted by her interest in Charles Gaunt and becomes entangled with Custis, as Custis continually comes to her aid. Lucy is a fiercely independent woman, and her fiery mannerisms serve as an interesting foil to Charles's delicate tendencies.
Custis Straw is a gruff yet just-minded Civil War veteran who displays true dedication to the much younger Lucy. Custis's goal is to protect and guide Lucy back to safety without impeding her own personal quest. He is perhaps the most sincere and cohesive character in the bunch.
Aloysius Dooley is a kind bartender and loyal friend to Custis Straw; his prime motivation in the book is to assist his friend Custis. Aloysius helps Custis not only tend to his health but pursue his devotion to Lucy.