Last Updated September 5, 2023.
Maria Chapdelaine is the main character of the novel. She is a young, modest French Canadian woman who comes home to her family after a month away. Three men are interested in her; she is in love with one of them, François. When he dies, she can’t stand the idea of having to marry someone else or staying in the wilderness. She decides to marry Lorenzo, a man from the city. After her mother’s death, however, she changes her mind and chooses to marry Eutrope, a man more like her father.
Samuel Chapdelaine is Maria’s father, who has worked his whole adult life to clear their farm and scrape a life from the wilderness. He is a strong, faithful man who loves his wife and daughter. After François’s death, he encourages Maria to move on and choose someone new to live with and love. He has built up five farms over the course of his life.
Laura Chapdelaine is Maria’s mother and Samuel’s wife. She is a hard-working and straightforward woman who has the love of her husband and the respect of her community. After she dies, her husband speaks to Maria of how hard Laura worked and how cheerfully she managed the land during their first years of married life. She even once fought off bears to save a sheep. These stories inspire Maria to choose to marry Eutrope instead of Lorenzo.
François Paradis is Maria’s suitor with whom she falls in love. His father died, and he gave up the farm, sold it, and changed to logging, fur trapping, or trading with the Indigenous tribes. After he and Maria privately agree to marry, he leaves for the winter to go to a logging camp. While trying to reach her home for a visit, he dies in the wilderness. Maria grieves his loss deeply, much to the concern of her parents and priest.
Eutrope Gagnon is a neighbor to the Chapdelaine family. He and his brother have been working to build up their farmstead. He is a modest man who isn’t able to express his feelings to Maria. If she marries him, he promises, they will work hard together, and he will toil all day to improve their lives. When Maria’s mother is sick, he walks a long distance to bring help. Maria agrees to marry him in the end.
Lorenzo Surprenant is a Canadian who moved to Maine and then Massachusetts. He talks about city life and tries to convince Maria that she would be happier in a city in the United States. He works in a factory and says the idea of having a farm and land does not entice him. Maria thinks about marrying him for a while but changes her mind after her mother dies.
Tit’Sebe of St. Felicien
Tit’Sebe of St. Felicien is the bone-setter that Eutrope goes to bring to Maria’s mother. He stays to try to help her but is unsuccessful.