- The protagonist of the "Franny" section; Franny, a 20-year-old college student who is in the midst of a breakdown, is the youngest child in the Glass clan. She is an actress and an English major, but she has become disenchanted with college, socially and academically. She is dating Lane Coutell.
- The protagonist of the "Zooey" section; Zooey, age 25, helps his sister, Franny, through her spiritual breakdown. He is a television actor and is the best-looking member of the Glass clan, according to their brother Buddy.
- The mother of the Glass clan, Bessie is, with her husband, Les, a former Vaudeville star. She encourages the children's intellectual pursuits but is not nearly so gifted herself. She constantly wears a large, unflattering kimono around the apartment.
- The narrator who claims to have authored the "Zooey" section, Buddy is the second-oldest Glass child. At the time in which he narrates the story, however, Buddy is the oldest remaining Glass child, since Seymour committed suicide several years prior. Buddy claims to be guilty of perhaps excess religious coaching of Franny and Zooey. Buddy is a writer and a teacher at a remote college. Many parallels can be drawn between the character of Buddy and J. D. Salinger himself.
- Franny Glass's boyfriend, Lane represents much of the phoniness and egotism in intellectualism and academics that Franny cannot stand. He is fairly insensitive to her breakdown and only talks about wanting her to read a paper that he got a good grade on.