FRANCIS MARION "FM" DUNBAR - Once carefree, now embittered drifter of 25; poet at heart, constantly telling 'stories'. Aimless, stung by WWII, he returns to Ellenton to collect his birthright and move on, but winds up having to face himself and choose a path.
LIZBETH "LISSY" JACKSON - 23, a waitress, recently relinquished her dreams of escaping this insular town to marry its most eligible bachelor. She had but one date with Dunbar, but it was enough to keep her longing for the intense feeling of it. She feels life is whizzing by her, but is helpless to get out.
MATILDA "TILLY" CLAIBORNE - Stage voice, not operatic, spinster, 50-65, retired schoolteacher who takes care of the family home and garden. Often sounds scatterbrained, but it is merely her mind working faster than her mouth. She and Sam depend on each other for intellectual comfort....and maybe more.
DR. SAMUEL "DOC SAM" BUCKINGHAM - Widower, 60s, owns and lives over the drugstore; well-read and given to lecturing where a word would do. Everybody but Sam knows that although he carries a torch for his dead wife, he has long loved Tilly Claiborne.
CALVIN CLAIBORNE - 50-60s, runs the family's enterprises and the general store, but mainly enjoys being the mayor; heavy, expansive, friendly; a sly sense of humor and a heart of gold.
PAULINE GUNDY - Spiritual voice, big-range mezzo, middle-aged, outspoken Claiborne maid and cook; lives with Moses Gundy in sharecropper shack in "Piney Woods".
"BOOT" GUNDY - Middle-aged, itinerant; lives where he likes, mostly in Mr. Calvin's barns; slow-speaking but a true philosopher.
MOSES "GUNDY" GUNDY - Middle-aged, hard-working sharecropper all his life; always dreamt of buying a farm of his own; is about to make down payment for one.
COL. HIRAM PIERCE - 50, Corps of Engineers, from Mid-west; straightforward, kindly, not at all soldierly.
AUSTIN CLAIBORNE - 25, oldest son, humorless, responsible; is short, bespectacled; goes steady with Lissy.
RUTH ANN CLAIBORNE - Mid-range, 40s, Calvin's wife, ambitious for him; jealous of Tilly, mostly from her lack of sophistication.
DUANE STONE - 55, the town barber, balding, mustachioed, fey gossip.
LEROY "CHUBBY" CLAIBORNE - Football lineman, clean-shaven.
EMERSON DUNBAR BUCKINGHAM, - Elderly, bearded, town rummy; sad but proud.