David is the main character and narrator of the novel. His ability to communicate telepathically, or through “thought pictures,” with others makes him abnormal within the town of Waknuk, where he lives. As a result… (read full character analysis)
Petra is David’s youngest sister. She is thought to be a normal child, until she endangers the other telepathic Waknukians with her extraordinarily strong telepathic powers. The Zealand woman suspects that Petra is the… (read full character analysis)
Rosalind is David’s half cousin, and later his girlfriend. Uncle Axel finds out about David’s secret ability when he hears him having a conversation with Rosalind, who can also communicate telepathically. Rosalind’s ability is… (read full character analysis)
David’s Uncle Axel, the husband of his mother’s late sister, is his primary confidant until he flees Waknuk and is no longer able to communicate with him. Unlike David’s parents, Uncle Axel does not… (read full character analysis)
Joseph is David’s father and a strict believer in the Waknukian faith. He ruthlessly beats David when he lies about Sophie’s mutation, and he persecutes and targets anyone in town who he believes… (read full character analysis)
Michael also has the ability to communicate telepathically. He argues with Anne about her decision to get married to the non-telepath Alan, and goes to great lengths to protect his fellow telepaths. When David… (read full character analysis)
The woman from Zealand (which David and Rosalind call “Sealand”) discovers the group in Waknuk when she hears Petra’s thoughts. In Zealand, everyone can communicate through thought images, but Petra has the largest known range… (read full character analysis)
The Inspector is in charge of granting Certificates of Normalcy to newborn Waknukians and determining what is and is not made in the Image of God. He and Joseph Strorm disagree about whether great-horses should… (read full character analysis)
Gordon resembles his brother, Joseph, except that Gordon has extremely long arms and legs. At one point he is described as “the spidery man.” As a result, he was banished from Waknuk and cast… (read full character analysis)
David’s Aunt Harriet comes to David’s house to plead for help from her sister, Emily Strorm. Harriet’s child has a mutation, and she wants Emily to lend her Petra for a few days… (read full character analysis)
Anne is a member of the group of Waknukians that can communicate telepathically. She realizes that there are an unequal number of girls and boys in the group, and that some of the girls will… (read full character analysis)
Alan, a boy with whom David goes to school, sees Sophie’s six-toed footprint and reports her to the authorities, an act that forces Sophie and her family to flee their home. Later in the… (read full character analysis)
Rachel is Anne’s sister, and another telepath. When an illiterate neighbor finds Anne’s suicide note, which is addressed to the Inspector, Rachel lies and says that it is meant for her so that… (read full character analysis)
Emily Strorm is David and Petra’s mother and Joseph’s wife. Like Joseph, she believes strongly in the Waknukian faith, and she decorates her homes with sayings from the holy book Repentences. She… (read full character analysis)
John Wender is Sophie’s father. He is a kind man, but he initially does not trust David to keep his daughter’s secret. Once he sees the strength of David and Sophie’s friendship, however, he grows… (read full character analysis)
Old People is the term used to describe the people who lived before Tribulation. Very little is known about them, but the Waknukian religion holds that Waknukians should model their lives after the Old People.
Jerome catches Sally, Katherine, David, Rosalind, and Petra in the woods and questions them about how they all knew that Petra was hurt. He reports them to officials who then capture Sally and Katherine and hunt David, Rosalind, and Petra.
Katherine is another telepath who, like Sally, is caught by the government and tortured. She is the first to reveal Rosalind, David, and Petra’s names, and eventually dies at the hand of her torturers.
Nicholson wrote Repentences many years after Tribulation.
Mary is David’s sister. She warns him not to tell anyone about his dreams about the city, and takes care of him when their father beats him.
The Fringes Man
This man captures David, Rosalind, Petra, and their great-horses and brings them to Gordon. He speaks with David about the nature of life.
New People is the term the Zealander woman uses for people who are able to think-together.
Mrs. Wender is Sophie’s mother. While she cannot communicate telepathically, David is able to read her feelings before she communicates them out loud.
Mark is another telepath. He stops communicating with the others after Rosalind, David, and Petra flee, and his fate remains unknown to the rest of the group.
Angus Morton is Rosalind’s father and Joseph Strorm’s enemy. The two disagree about the moral status of Angus’ great-horses, on which Rosalind, David, and Petra later escape.
Jacob is an old farmer who believes that Blasphemies should be burned instead of banished.
Uncle Axel tells David about Marther’s controversial journals from his sailing trips.
Walter is another telepath. Early in the novel, before the members of the group learn each other’s names, one member disappears. Uncle Axel finds out for David that Walter died in an accident.
Sheba is David’s horse.
The unnamed wife of Elias Strorm. She was less orthodox than her husband, and was described as being "coltish."