Addie Bundren: Addie is the Bundren family matriarch who has ordered her coffin to be built under her window. She is dying when the novel opens and dies shortly after. A deeply unhappy woman in life, she had her family promise that upon her death they would take her body to the town of Jefferson to bury her.
Anse Bundren: Anse is the ineffective and bumbling Bundren family patriarch who takes his dead wife's body to Jefferson under the pretext of burying her, but his real purpose for making the trip is to get new false teeth.
Armstid: Armstid is a Mississippi farmer who provides hospitality to the Bundrens during their journey to bury Addie.
Cash: Cash is the oldest Bundren son. A carpenter, he is obsessed with numbers and builds a coffin for his mother within her hearing.
Cora: Cora Tull is a superficial religious country woman, a neighbor of the Bundrens and a friend to Addie.
Darl: Darl is the second Bundren son and the novel's primary narrator who is characterized by words, introspection and mind-reading. His mother Addie never loved him and he suffers the consequences.
Dewey Dell: Dewey Dell is seventeen, unwed and pregnant by an itinerant worker. She wants to go to Jefferson to seek an abortion.
Jewel: Jewel is Addie's most beloved son. Given to violent outbursts, he is characterized by action and few words.
MacGowan: MacGowan is a drug store clerk. He misrepresents himself to Dewey Dell, telling her he is a doctor who can help her with an abortion.
Moseley: Moseley owns a drug store and attempts to talk Dewey Dell out of an abortion.
Peabody: Peabody is the helpful country doctor who treats the Bundrens despite Anse's dislike for him. He provides the most reliable narrative of events.
Samson: Samson is a Mississippi farmer who provides hospitality to the Bundren clan upon their journey to Jefferson to bury Addie.
Vardaman: Vardaman is the youngest Bundren son. He is mentally deficient and believes his mother is a fish.
Vernon Tull: Tull is the nearest of the Bundrens' neighbors and seems to labor more for them than they do for themselves.
Whitfield: Whitfield, Jewel's real father, had an affair with Addie and suffers guilt as a consequence.
As I Lay Dying: Character Profiles