- Emil Sinclair is the protagonist of the novel. Sinclair is confused as to what his life is, and is going to be, and constantly seeks mentorship throughout the novel. He tends to need validation by an older figure, and finds mentors in figures such as Pistorius, Demian, and Eva.
- Sinclair's mother and father are the symbols of safety toward which Sinclair first finds refuge, but against whom he eventually rebels.
- Franz Kromer is a bully, whose psychological torture leads Sinclair to meet Demian.
- Max Demian is a childhood friend and a mentor of Sinclair. Demian leads Sinclair to his eventual self-realization, and may be considered Emil's daemon.
- Alfons Beck is the "sarcastic and avuncular" oldest boy at the boarding house where Sinclair enrolls after his confirmation. Beck serves as a minor mentor to Sinclair, and introduces Sinclair to the joys and pitfalls of alcohol.
- Pistorius is a rector, an organist at a local church, and a temporary mentor for Sinclair. Pistorius teaches Sinclair how to look inside himself for spiritual guidance.
- Frau Eva is Max Demian's mother. She steadily becomes Sinclair's ideal characterisation in life, first in his pictures and visions, then in person.
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