STAGE MANAGER: a type of chorus, is a device Wilder uses to explain and comment upon the action and the characters as the play unfolds.
DR. GIBBS: the father of George and Rebecca, is the local physician. He is shocked when he finds that his son wants to marry and become a farmer, but finally realizes the youth is really no longer a child, any more than the doctor was when he married. Dr. Gibbs is a hard-working man whose hobby is the American Civil War; his idea of a vacation is an excursion to some battlefield of that conflict.
MRS. GIBBS: the mother of George and Rebecca, is a hard-working woman who loves her family, even though she does not always understand them. She has found joy in her marriage and hopes her son will find joy in his.
GEORGE GIBBS: a typical young American boy who loves baseball, gives up going to college to marry Emily, whom he dearly loves. When his wife dies he is filled with grief and goes to sob at her grave, not realizing that she pities him for not valuing the life he still enjoys.
REBECCA GIBBS: George’s sister
MR. WEBB: Emily’s father, is the editor and publisher of the local newspaper. He writes editorials every day, yet he cannot bring himself to advise his son-in-law on marriage, though he tries.
MRS. WEBB: the mother of Emily and Wally, is a good-hearted woman. On Emily’s wedding day she finds herself unable to give her daughter advice on marriage, though she had meant to do so.
EMILY WEBB: a sweet young thing, falls in love with and later marries George Gibbs. She dies in childbirth while still young and shyly takes her place among her relatives and friends in the little graveyard. She tries to live her twelfth birthday over, only to discover that to relive is no joy, that the dead can only pity the living who don’t know what joy they have in life.
WALLY WEBB: Emily’s brother
SIMON STIMSON: the local choir director, has become an alcoholic because he cannot find happiness in the small town. Even in death, after committing suicide, he believes life is ignorance and folly.