Emily Gold is a high school student living in a small town who decides to commit suicide after becoming pregnant by her boyfriend, Chris. Though she does not reveal it to anyone during her lifetime, she was sexually abused once as a child, which causes her to be disgusted by sex. She loves her boyfriend deeply but ultimately asks him to help her take her own life.
Chris Harte is arguably the protagonist of The Pact. He grows up alongside Emily Gold and is in a deeply committed and loving relationship with her when she decides to kill herself. Chris is sent to prison pending trial for her murder and eventually found to be not guilty.
Melanie Gold is Emily's mother. Melanie becomes fixated on the explanation of murder because she cannot imagine her daughter being depressed without telling her. This causes problems in her marriage since Michael Gold, her husband, trusts that Chris would not hurt Emily. By profession, Melanie Gold is a librarian.
Gus Harte is the mother of Chris Harte, the teenage boy who is sent to prison because he is suspected of murdering Emily Gold. She is fiercely protective of her son and would do anything to keep him from going to prison for life; she is even tempted to lie for him in court. She has a strained relationship with her husband, James. She was once best friends with Melanie Gold, but Melanie pushes her away after Emily's death.
Michael Gold is Emily's father. Though he grieves for his daughter, he does not blame Chris for her death. He is a veterinarian and a generally sensitive and kind father figure in the story. He secretly begins to visit Chris in jail and then even to have meals with Gus Harte, though his wife does not approve. His relationship with his wife is strained by their differing viewpoints on whether Chris murdered their daughter.
James Harte is the father of Chris Harte, the teenage boy who is sent to prison because he is suspected of murdering Emily Gold. He is a stoic and manly character who does not like to show emotion or even accept that there is a problem in his family. This creates problems with his wife who wants him to be more compassionate towards their son and not hide their family's problems from the public. James Harte is also an award-winning doctor who cares deeply about his work.
Jordan McAfee is Chris Harte's defense lawyer. Jordan is a good lawyer and eventually wins the case for Chris, but he has his own problems with his son and ex-wife. Jordan McAfee appears in multiple of Picoult's works at various points in his life. In this novel, Jordan is younger than he is in other of Picoult's books. Here, his relationship with Selena Damascus begins; in other novels, the two are married.
Anne-Marie Marrone is a detective involved in Chris's case. She interviews him at the hospital following Emily's death, and she is responsible for introducing suspicion about Chris' involvement in Emily's death.
Kate Harte is Chris Harte's younger sister. She does not appear much in the book, but feels as if she does not get enough attention from her parents after her brother goes to prison.
Selena Damascus is a private investigator who works with Jordan McAfee on Chris's case. She is described as beautiful and powerful, and near the end of the novel she seems to instigate a romantic relationship with Jordan that carries on to others of Picoult's novels.
Barrie Delaney is the prosecuting lawyer assigned to Chris's case. She believes that she will win the case by presenting evidence that Chris is guilty of first degree murder.
Judge Puckett is the judge presiding over Chris's case. He is a stern man and disposed to eating nuts while he listens to a trial.
Thomas McAfee is the son of Jordan McAfee. He takes after his father in terms of being argumentative and highly sexual.
The Pact Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Pact is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Sam coped with his failure by working harder than ever. He pushed himself, getting up early in the morning, studying at the library, and pouring over his work with the two girls from his class who'd also failed the test. Next time around, he...