Pedro Páramo is both protagonist and antagonist since his acts are at cross-purposes. He is capable of decisive action, like when he eliminated his debt and took over more land, but is unable to use that decisiveness to do any good for the community. He is like a tragic hero in the way that he longs for Susana and is totally unable to get over her death. His one fatal flaw is her. He cannot function without her or the incentive of her. Pedro serves as a fertility god figurehead in the work. He not only literally impregnates many of the town’s women, but he has many children (the priest brings many to his doorstep).He also is in charge of the well-being of Comala. but also can “cross his arms” and let Comala die. This shows that he has the power of life and fertility over the town. Pedro’s name has great significance in the work. "Pedro" is derived from the Latin petrus, meaning "rock," and "Páramo" means “barren plain”. This is ironic since in the end of the work Pedro collapses “like a pile of rocks” after observing what his land had become.
Susana San Juan
She is the love of Pedro’s life. They grew up together. Her mother died friendless, and later her father is killed in the Andromeda mine by Sedano so that Pedro can marry her. She loved her first husband very much and went mad when he died. She thinks that he is still living, and she “talks” to him several times in the work. She appeared to have loved him for his body and not for his personality. She might have had sex with Pedro, but it is apparent that he wanted to have her. They were never married since he had never divorced Dolores. He is full of grief when she dies and refuses to work anymore and lets the town die. She is commonly portrayed and symbolized as the rain and water. In the passages that she is in, there is a backdrop with it raining. Such an example of this is the scene with Juanita, Susana, and the cat. The entire background is the rain; it is raining torrents, and the valley is flooded.
Juan Preciado – narrator
Juan is one of the two narrators in the work. He recounts his story for the first half of the work, up until his death. He comes to Comala in order to find his father, his mother’s last wish. He finds the town abandoned and dies of fright from the ghosts. He is then buried in the same grave as Dorotea, whom he talks with. It is apparent that he dies without the proper sacraments and is now stuck in purgatory.
Fulgor Sedano – mentor
He is the administrator of the Media Luna and also plots with Pedro to increase the landholdings. He had been around the estate for many years serving the former don, Lucas. He knows what to do and how to do it and boasts a number of achievements, including getting Dolores to marry Pedro. He is killed by a band of revolutionaries who view him as an embodiment of the privileged estate that they are fighting against. He also is responsible for having Toribio Aldrete hanged because he is trying to get the land surveyed to prove his right to some of it.
He and Juan are both sons of Pedro Páramo. His character is the exact opposite to Juan. He is wild and a rapist, while Juan is quiet and respectful of women. He is fearless, whereas Juan dies of fear. He has a horse and rides it often, whereas Juan does not and has to travel by foot. His wantonness contrasts the calmness of Juan despite their shared parentage. Additionally, he is known for liking loose women and for murdering Ana’s father. He also rapes Ana when he goes to her to apologize to her for killing him. He is thrown from his horse when going to another village to meet his current lover.
Dorotea – narrator
She is the second narrator in the work. She tells the story of Comala before Pedro died after she is buried in the grave with Juan. Her storytelling dominates the second half of the work. She was known for being homeless and living on the charity of the people in the town. She had always tried to have children but had “the heart of a mother but a womb of a whore”. She was known for her eccentric behavior by thinking that she had a baby.
Father Rentería – antihero
He is really not the main character, but he possesses all the characteristics of one. He tries to stand up to Pedro and not give absolution to his son, Miguel. He has only the best intentions in mind but is unable to carry them out. His brother was killed by Miguel, and his niece was raped by him. He takes some gold to absolve Miguel, and he feels poorly about it, throwing himself in a corner and crying to the Lord.
He goes to another town to try to get himself forgiven of his sins so that he could continue to give the sacraments to the people of Comala. The other priest refuses, but they talk about how everything that grows in their region tastes sour and bitter. It is directly Father Rentería’s fault that so many souls are stuck in Comala. He had failed in his duty to absolve those people and administer the last rite to them, and thus, they died and were unable to go to heaven. He is later mentioned as having joined the Cristero War.
Good friend of Dolores Preciado. They promised to die together and help each other through the afterlife. She had died years ago and greets Juan when he arrives at Comala. She tells him of how she almost “came within a hair of being his mother” since she had to go and sleep with Pedro on their wedding night. She tells of her relationship and relations with Miguel Páramo and how it was she who saw his ghost before it left. Her sister, María Dyada, tells the priest that her suicide was out of despair and that she was a really good woman. He refuses to help her, and thus, her ghost remains in the town and purgatory. She dies with the idea that Abundio is a good man and does not know about his murdering Pedro.
She was Juan’s mother. She was wooed into marriage to Pedro by Sedano who said he thought of nothing but her all day and night and that her eyes were beautiful. Pedro owed her family the most money of all the other families, and her sisters had already moved to the city. She was married to annul the debt. Later, she is staring at a buzzard and says that she wishes that she was the same so that she could fly to her sister in the city. Pedro gets mad enough and dismisses her for good. They are never officially divorced. Her dying wish is for Juan to go and see his father and “make him pay for all those years he put us out of his mind".
He is the mail carrier. He is deaf because a rocket once went off near his ear. After that he did not talk much, and he became depressed. Later, his wife dies. He goes to get drunk at a local bar. Upon leaving he sees Damiana Cisneros and asks her for some money to bury his wife. He startles her, and she begins to scream. He then kills Pedro Páramo, his father, is captured, vomits, and is dragged to town. Eduviges calls him a good man.
He is the town’s seer. He is the one who tells Dolores not to sleep with Pedro on her wedding night. His nickname is “Cockleburr” since he is well known to be able to stick to any horse and break it.
She is the cook at the Media Luna and the ghost who takes Juan from Ediviges’s house on that first night. She is sad to hear that Eduviges is still wandering the earth. Juan takes a while to realize that she is really a ghost and for a time, thinks that she is still alive. She was murdered by Abundio. She was also one of Dolores’s good friends, and Juan knew about her when he arrived at Comala.
He is a property surveyor. He was splitting and dividing up Pedro’s land and was going to build fences. He is stopped by a plot by Pedro and Sedano. They plot to try to stop him from doing the survey and draw up a warrant against him. Sedano goes to Ediviges’s house one night with a drunken Aldrete and hangs him and throws away the keys to the room. He remains there in spirit and wakes Juan on his first night in Comala with his death screams.
Donis and his wife/sister
These two are some of the last living people in the town. Donis is suspicious of Juan and his motives for being there and thinks that he is a murderer and does not want him to spend the night. His wife/sister likes him there and does a little extra to try to get him some more food since they have so little. She trades some of the old sheets for food and coffee. Donis is glad that Juan showed up since he could now leave the town and have his wife/sister taken care of. Years ago, it is recounted that a bishop went through and refused to marry the two.
She is Susana’s caregiver. She has taken care of her for many years, since she was born. She cried when Susana was dying, and Susana told her to stop crying. Justina is scared one day by the ghost of Bartolomé, who tells her to leave the town since Susana would be well cared for.