The drover’s wife is the central character in the story. She inhabits the Australian bush together with her four “ragged, dried-up looking children,” and has to encounter various hardships during her husband’s absence. She is lonely and poor, but remains strong, dreaming of fashion and another life. As she waits up for the snake, she recalls various dangerous situations she had to face in her life. It is apparent she is accustomed to the hardships that life brings her, and that she is capable of taking care of herself and the children. The snake that represents another threat is also eventually defeated. She has no other option than to continue being strong and brave; however, her tears at the end of the story suggest that even she has her limits and that these limits may be reached some day.
Tommy is the drovers’s wife’s eldest son. He wants to protect his mother, so he wants to be the one who kills the snake. Later, when Tommy sees his mother cry, he promises he will never become a drover.
Jacky is Tommy’s younger brother. When the mother puts the children to sleep so she can watch out for the snake, he complains of being “skeezed” and that his brother is skinning him alive with his club. When more room is made for him he goes to sleep.
Alligator is the big, black, yellow-eyed mongrel dog. He readily comes to save the day at any sign of trouble. When he rushes after the snake, his nose gets skinned by Tommy's club, but he takes no notice of it. The dog is precious to the family, and they cannot afford to lose him. He is not a very beautiful dog but is fearless, and will readily tackle anything that threatens the safety of his owners. He hates all other dogs except for kangaroo dogs, and he has a marked dislike of friends or relations of the family, though he sometimes is friendlier to strangers. He hates snakes and has killed many, but he will be bitten someday and die, as most snake dogs die that way. One day, when the drover's wife was covered in soot from fighting a fire, frightening the baby, she was attacked by Alligator, who trusted more to the child's sense than his own instinct. He had to be pulled back by Tommy with the help of a saddle strap. His sorrow for the blunder was made known by his ragged tail and twelve inch grin. He has also been used by the drover's wife to scare off insistent swagmen in the past. He keeps a keen lookout for the snake, and in the end manages to kill it.
He is often away droving, although he had wanted to give this profession up to be a farmer. He takes care of his family as best he can and is a decent husband, though his wife knows he sometimes sleeps with other women. His fate is unknown at the end of the story.
The Drover's Brother
He helps the drover's wife out when the husband is away.
A local aboriginal man.
An elderly woman associated with Jimmy. She seems to have a bit of mystique about her, and helps the drover's wife with one of her childbirths.
The aboriginal man
The drover's wife had hired him to gather and stack firewood for her and was pleased at how fast he worked and how much he had brought her. However, this man being one of the last leaders of his disappearing people, he harbored resentment against her and in fact created a hollow stack of firewood.
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