The protagonist of the book, John Grady Cole is a sixteen-year-old from San Angelo, Texas, who enjoys working on his family’s ranch when he’s not in school. Alienated by his mother’s decision to sell the… (read full character analysis)
John Grady’s childhood friend, a seventeen-year-old who grew up on a neighboring ranch. Rawlins is also a good horseback rider, though he doesn’t have John Grady’s natural gift with horses. Lacey isn’t as committed as… (read full character analysis)
A young boy riding a big bay horse whom John Grady and Rawlins encounter when they’re about to cross the border to Mexico. He claims he’s sixteen but looks more like thirteen, and the other… (read full character analysis)
The owner of the La Purísima hacienda, where John Grady and Rawlins work for several months. Don Hector is impressed by John Grady’s skill with horses, and grants him a special position breeding his horses… (read full character analysis)
Alejandra’s great-aunt, the matriarch of the hacienda. She was a bookish child and had radical, free-thinking ideas, making her a natural partner to Francisco and Gustavo Madero, two brothers who would help to start the… (read full character analysis)
Francisco’s brother, another historical figure who sought to remake Mexico through progressive social reform. In the novel, both and he Alfonsa suffered physical accidents and bonded over their suffering: though they were never engaged and… (read full character analysis)
A Mexican official of ambiguous authority, he is brutal and unforgiving. After being laughed at as a boy, he is haunted by the memory and acts viciously and pitilessly as a result. He is the… (read full character analysis)
John Grady’s father, he only appears briefly at the beginning of the novel. It seems that the two were once close, but the father went away to fight in World War II and was imprisoned… (read full character analysis)
A historically real person, a Mexican revolutionary and the first popularly elected Mexican president. In the novel, Madero is also a friend of Alfonsa’s family who helped introduce Alfonsa to the social ideals of the revolutionary era.
El charro (the cowboy)
An elegantly dressed man who pays the captain a bribe to kill Blevins, who had killed the charro’s brother.
A fellow prisoner with John Grady and Rawlins, who seems to hold almost mythical power within the prison. He is charge of the bribes that pass through the prison, without which, he claims, the boys will be doomed.
A knife-bearing boy, not much older than John Grady, who is hired to kill him in the prison, but John Grady kills him instead.
One of the vaqueros who works on the hacienda. He becomes John Grady’s friend, sharing cigarettes with him and letting him know about the various dynamics at the hacienda, including how Don Hector feels about him and Alejandra.
The manager of the hacienda, who allows John Grady and Rawlins to attempt to break the horses in four days, though he doesn’t believe they’ll be able to do it.
An employee at the hacienda, who tells John Grady and Rawlins stories about Mexican culture and history while they’re searching for wild mares on the mesa.
The cook at the hacienda.
The house attendant at the hacienda, who seems sympathetic to John Grady.
An old man
Another prisoner housed with Blevins, John Grady, and Rawlins. John Grady frees him when he returns to get the horses.
The Mexican woman who has been on John Grady’s family’s ranch for years, and who, along with her mother Abuela, brought him up.
Luisa’s mother, who was also important in John Grady’s childhood and who is devastated at the news of the ranch’s sale.
A man who works at John Grady’s family’s ranch.
A judge in Texas who rules at the hearing of Blevins’ horse. After the hearing, John Grady goes to talk to the judge almost as if he is confessing his sins.
Jimmy Blevins (Preacher)
A well-known gospel radio host, whom John Grady goes to talk to in a desperate attempt to find the owner of Blevins’ horse.
A lawyer who knows the Cole family and convinces John Grady that there’s nothing to be done about the ranch’s sale.
Mary Catherine Barnett
A girl whom John Brady used to see before leaving for Mexico—she dumped him.