Séraphin Carrupt (say-rah-FA[N] kah-REWPT), an elderly Swiss shepherd. He is killed when an avalanche slides at night onto the mountain pasture where he is keeping his cattle.
Antoine Pont (ahn-TWAHN poh[n]), a young, newly married Swiss shepherd who is thought dead after the avalanche covers the mountain pasture. Miraculously, he is not killed. Living on cheese, he burrows his way out of the mass of rock and earth after two long months. He courageously wants to go back to rescue Séraphin Carrupt, his companion, but his wife dissuades him, knowing the old man is dead.
Thérèse Pont (tay-REHZ), Antoine’s young wife. She realizes on the night when the avalanche falls that she is going to have a child. When her husband returns, she can scarcely believe that she is not seeing a ghost. Only she is courageous enough to follow her husband back to the scene of the avalanche to dissuade him from trying to dig out his companion.
Philomène Maye (fee-loh-MEHN mah-YEH), Thérèse’s mother, who tries to shield her daughter from news of her husband’s supposed death.
Old Barthélémy (bahr-tay-lay-MEE), a shepherd who lives through the avalanche but dies as he is being carried down the mountain for treatment.
Maurice Nendaz (moh-REES nah[n]-DAHZ), a lame old man, the first villager to realize that what he hears is an avalanche, not a storm in the distance.
Old Plon (ploh[n]), a shepherd who thinks he hears noises under the huge pile of rock and earth left by the avalanche and assumes that he is hearing ghosts.