Ivan Yanson (ihv-AHN yahn-SOHN), a vicious murderer convicted of stabbing his master. Repulsed by all who know him, he responds to his frustrations by drinking and by beating animals entrusted to his care. He is terrified by the prospect of death and must be carried to the scaffold to be hanged.
Tsiganok Golubets (tsih-GAH-nehk goh-LOO-behts), a professional robber and murderer. In more lucid moments, he takes pride in his inhuman deeds. At other times, he falls to all fours and howls like an animal. Although frightened at times by the prospect of death, he finally mounts the scaffold arrogantly.
Tanya Kovalchuk (TAHN-yuh koh-VAHL-chook), the bravest of the five persons condemned to die as political conspirators. She concerns herself with the six persons who must die with her, thinking of them instead of herself. Only she of the seven goes to her death alone, the others going in pairs.
Musya (MEWS-yah), another woman condemned as a political conspirator and sentenced to hang. She believes in a life after death and views her hanging as a martyrdom. At the appointed time, she takes the professional criminal by the hand and mounts the scaffold with him.
Sergey Golovin (sehr-GAY goh-LOH-vihn), a young man sentenced to hang for political conspiracy. Because of his youth and vitality, he finds death hard to face. He and Vasily Kashirin are the first to be hanged.
Vasily Kashirin (vah-SIH-lihy kah-SHIHR-ihn), another young man found guilty of political conspiracy. Unloved and unloving, he goes to his death with no show of fear.
Werner, the fifth of the condemned political conspirators. Although tired of life and contemptuous of his fellow human beings, he learns in his last two days of life to have sympathy for others.