Grandson of General Compson, Thomas Sutpen's first (and only) friend in Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. He is 20 years old and preparing to attend Harvard in Massachusetts. He has lived all of his life in Jefferson, a member of an old and socially elite family there, and has grown up with the legend of Thomas Sutpen. He is a troubled young man, tortured by the horrors of Southern history and unable to be at peace with his own role in that history.
Quentin's roommate at Harvard. A young man from Edmonton, Canada. He is curious about the South and asks Quentin to explain his home region. Quentin responds with the story of Thomas Sutpen, and Shreve, quick to understand that storytelling depends on the teller, joins in with his own reinterpretation.
Quentin's father. He is one of the first narrators of the Sutpen legend and one of the most objective. He does not have all the information about Charles Bon, and this leads him to make the wrong conclusions. A wise but ineffectual man who believes in fate above all else.
Miss Rosa Coldfield
Ellen Sutpen's younger sister; aunt to Henry and Judith Sutpen (although she was born four years after Judith and six years after Henry). She summons Quentin out to her home in order to tell him her version of the Sutpen legend and asks him to accompany her to Sutpen's Hundred late at night. She was briefly engaged to Thomas Sutpen after her sister died, and then left his house when he insulted her. Since then, she has been a spinster, burning up with bitterness over the events that took place regarding Thomas Sutpen decades ago.
A mysterious figure who towers over the book. Although we never come to know him fully, he is a man of indomitable will and frightful immorality. He materialized in Jefferson out of thin air in 1833 and proceeded to swindle Indians out of 100 acres and use a team of 20 slaves to raise an enormous estate, then marry Ellen Coldfield and begin his "dynasty." Born of impoverished Scots-Irish stock in the West Virginia mountains, his life was consumed by a "design" that he decided upon at the age of fourteen.
Thomas Sutpen's half-black daughter. A dominant, though silent, presence throughout the book. She was born of one of Sutpen's slaves and lived in the house, serving the Sutpens until the Civil War. After the war, she and Judith and Rosa scrapped to get food, and she lived on the property until December 1909, when she burned it down.
Born Ellen Coldfield. Rosa's older sister; mother of Henry and Judith. Thomas Sutpen's second wife in Jefferson, Mississippi. She is a rather foolish woman, eager only that herself and her children live in comfort. She is done in by the tragedy that consumed the household during the Civil War, and dies at a young age.
Daughter of Ellen and Thomas Sutpen. She was engaged to Charles Bon although she barely knew him, and was determined to marry him at all costs. Possessed of her father's will and ability to act quickly, she was also possessed of his taste for blood and violence. Though she frightened many people--Miss Rosa included--her last act was a gentle one, nursing Charles Etienne de St. Valery Bon while they both suffered from yellow fever.
Son of Ellen and Thomas Sutpen. Raised on Sutpen's Hundred, begins attending the University of Mississippi in 1859. A romantic, indecisive young man lacking his father's will and his father's taste for blood. (But he does have his father's sense of purpose and follow-through.) In love with both his sister and his friend Charles Bon, whom he meets at the University of Mississippi, so much so that he widows the latter before she is married by murdering the former.
Son of Thomas Sutpen and Eulalia Bon. His mother, Eulalia, was abandoned by Thomas Sutpen for unknown reasons in 1831, although Quentin belives that it was because Sutpen learned Eulalia had black blood. A worldly and sophisticated young man who grew up in Haiti and New Orleans, he attended the University of Mississippi beginning in 1859 and was engaged to Judith Sutpen throughout the Civil War.
Father of Ellen Sutpen and Rosa Coldfield. A small-town merchant with strange, but unshakeable morals. When the Civil War began he nailed himself into the attic and died there.
A poor white squatter on Sutpen's Hundred. He lives on an abandoned fishing camp with his young granddaughter, Milly Jones, occasionally doing odd jobs for Thomas Sutpen and, after the Civil War, drinking with Sutpen as well. He kills Sutpen after Sutpen insults his granddaughter.
Wash Jones' granddaughter. Only one year old when she begins to live on Sutpen's Hundred, she begins sleeping with Thomas Sutpen at the age of fifteen and bears his child. She dies the same day that Thomas Sutpen does, and by the hand of the same man--her grandfather, Wash Jones.
Charles Etienne de St. Valery Bon
Son of Charles Bon and his octoroon mistress in New Orleans. Orphaned at the age of 12 and fetched, by Clytie, to live at Sutpen's Hundred. He grows up a disturbed and tortured young man, unable to reconcile himself to the fact of his black blood, and finally dies of yellow fever in 1884.
Son of Charles Etienne de St. Valery Bon and his black wife. Described as a "hulking" idiot, he lives on Sutpen's Hundred with Clytie until the fire in 1909, at which point he disappears. From then on, his "howl" is heard occasionally by residents of Jefferson.