Mary - the narrator, a teenager who wishes to learn what lies beyond the village. She is in love with "Travis" She is very curious about the ocean, which no one believes is real.
Jed - Mary's brother, a Guardian. Jed blames her for their mother's death and expels her from their home, leaving her no choice but to join the sisterhood. He is married to Beth .
Travis - the boy Mary loves. Though he returns her feelings, he won't marry her because his brother is in love with her. Instead, he asks Mary's best friend, Cass, to become his wife. He injures his leg one day, and later in the book is infected while trying to save Mary.
Harry - Travis's brother, who is in love with Mary though the feeling is not reciprocated. Nevertheless, Mary agrees to wed him to escape the Sisterhood. He soon develops feelings for Cass while Travis is recovering from his broken leg.
Beth - Jed's wife and the sister of Harry and Travis. While trying to escape from the village she is turned and later dies. During the course of the book she loses three children that are never born. She loses the first child at the very beginning before Mary's mother was infected, the second during the winter, and the last when she is infected and killed.
Argos- A young dog who was given to Mary by Harry as a wedding present. Later in the book, Mary gives Argos to Jacob.
Jacob - A young boy rescued by Harry when the village is overrun. When his parents and sister are most likely killed, Cass takes him in as her adoptive son.
Cassandra (Cass) - Mary's best friend until a love-quadrilateral estranges them. Mary says she smells like sunshine.
Gabrielle - A girl from Village XIV. After her town is overrun with Unconsecrated, she flees down the paths, apparently reaching the sea at one point. She eventually ends up in Mary's village, where the Sisterhood keeps her presence secret out of fear that it will upset their control of the people. The Sisterhood isolate her for a long period of time before releasing her to the Unconsecrated to be turned, recaptured, and studied. After returning as a new, faster type of Unconsecrated, she destroys part of the fence, allowing the Unconsecrated access to Mary's village, destroying it.
Sister Tabitha - The oldest Sister in the Sisterhood, the religious order that runs Mary's village, she is its head. She believes the Return is God's punishment for human curiosity and warns Mary not to seek answers beyond what the Sisterhood offers.
The Lighthouse Keeper - A man Mary encounters at the end of her journey.