- Joe Bonham
Joe Bonham is the main character. "The novel mainly consists of his reminiscences of childhood and his current struggle to remain sane and, finally, to communicate."
- Regular Day Nurse
"As a caretaker, capable of great humanistic love, the regular day nurse stands apart from the terse medical establishment, represented by the Morse code man, yet is not capable of the perceptive sympathy of the new day nurse."
- Bill Bonham (Joe's father)
Joe's father, Bill Bonham, courted Joe's mother and raised a family with her in Colorado. "His character comes to stand for Joe's nostalgia for an older way of life." It is also said that Bill passes away (chapter 1) leaving his mother and his younger sisters alone (one aged 13 years, the other aged about 9 years).
- Marcia Bonham (Joe's mother)
Joe's mother, Marcia Bonham, was always close to Joe and Bill. She is referenced regularly in the book singing, cooking/baking and playing the piano often.
- Kareen (Joe's girlfriend before he leaves for war)
Kareen (who was aged 19 years at the time of Joe's departure) is mentioned throughout the book as Joe floats between reality and fantasy. She and Joe sleep together for the first time (chapter 3) the night before he leaves, with her father's approval.
- Diane (Joe's first girlfriend)
Diane is only mentioned in chapter 4. In that chapter it is mentioned that she cheated on Joe with a boy named Glen Hogan. She also cheats on Joe with his best friend, Bill Harper (who told him that she cheated with Hogan).
- Bill Harper (Joe's best friend)
Bill Harper warns Joe that Diane has cheated on him with Glen Hogan. Joe, who doesn't believe the news, hits Bill. Joe later finds out Bill was truthful and decides that he wants to renew their friendship. However, he finds Bill and Diane making out at her home and is hurt by both. The end of chapter 4 references how Bill was killed at Belleau Wood.
Joe meets Howie (chapter 4) after his troubles with Diane and Glen Hogan. It seems that Howie was never able to keep a girl in his life, and his girlfriend Onie also cheated on him with Glen Hogan. Joe and Howie decide not only to forget about their girlfriends but also about Glen Hogan. Joe and Howie join a group of Mexicans working on a railroad. However, once Howie receives an apologetic telegram from Onie, the boys decide to return home.
José worked at a bakery with Joe. He was given the job at the bakery through the local homeless shelter. José has many stories that set him apart from the other homeless workers, including the fact that he refused marriage to a wealthy woman. José wanted to work in Hollywood. When the opportunity presented itself to work for a picture company, José purposely gets fired because he feels his own personal honor will not allow him to quit on the boss that gave him his original opportunity.