The narrator, a young writer.
The hero, a reckless, energetic, womanizing young man from Colorado who has been in and out of jail.
A good friend of Sal and Dean's, a brooding poet who is sensual and energetic.
Dean's first wife, a pretty "dumb" blonde from Colorado.
A tall, affable friend of Sal and Dean's. Not too bright, he'll do anything Dean says.
Ed Dunkel's serious, disapproving newlywed wife.
An old friend of Sal's from prep school. Remi, a flamboyant Frenchman, is a petty thief and gambler, constantly in debt but extravagant and sometimes gallant and generous.
Remi Boncoeur's sulky girlfriend.
She is tolerant, supportive, and kind. Sal lives at her house in Paterson, New Jersey, and Long Island. Throughout Sal's wanderings, she sends him money.
Sal's friend from Denver; young, slim, blond and soft-spoken. He is interested in philosophy, anthropology, and pre-historic Indians.
A friend of Sal's in Denver.
A friend with whom Sal lives briefly in Denver. Major is a Hemingway-esque writer who is scornful of "arty" types but snobby himself, often talking to Sal about Europe and fine wines.
Dean's second wife, for whom he divorces Marylou. Loyal Camille lives in San Francisco with her and Dean's children.
Ray and Babe, brother and sister, Denver friends of Sal's group. Babe, "an enterprising blonde," is Tim Gray's girlfriend.
A waitress in Denver whom Dean sets up with Sal. According to Dean, she has a "sex problem." Sal tries to prove to her that sex is beautiful, but he fails to impress her.
"Long, lean, strange and laconic," a long-time friend of Sal and Carlo, the teacher of their group. A traveler, writer, and junkie.
A lost friend whom Sal and Dean seek everywhere they go.
Bull Lee's sarcastic wife, a benzedrine junkie.
A married woman in New York whom Sal wants to marry for awhile.
A Central City friend, whom Sal sees all over town. Eager Denver D. Doll shakes hands and makes sometimes-incoherent pleasantries ("Good afternoon" at midnight, "Happy New Year," etc.)--from morning to night, a caricature of an official.
A pretty Mexican girl with whom Sal spends fifteen days in California. She comes from a family of grape-pickers in Sabinal, has a son, and is trying to escape a husband who beat her.
Terry's wild, drunk, happy-go-lucky brother whom Sal meets in Sabinal.
Terry and Rickey's friend, a manure-seller who smells like it. Big and eager to please, Ponzo is in love with Terry.
Terry's seven-year-old son.
Sal's friend in Tucson, Arizona; a shy writer who lives with his wife, baby, and mother.
A friend of Dean's in San Francisco, Slim goes to jazz joints and adds the suffix "orooni" to everything he says.
A friend of Sal's who chauffeurs Dean and Sal in San Francisco..
Dean's third wife, a sexy brunette he meets in New York.
An enthusiastic friend of Tim Gray's who goes to Mexico with Dean and Sal. Stan has a controlling grandfather he is trying to escape.
The kind, polite Mexican man; Sal, Dean, and Stan's guide in Gregoria.