The Places: Roofing, Minnesota and the Badlands, North Dakota
The Time: predominantly the early 1960’ around 1962, but also 1951 to the present day.
God - Although he never actually speaks to anyone of Jeremiah, his presence is a constant as He gives Jeremiah the ability to do miracles and is always with them. He leads Reuben when he goes to the “other country” and sends him home again. He is the one all but Davy turns to when they are most in need.
Reuben Land – Reuben is both narrator and main character of the story. He is
eleven years old when the main events begin, although he gives us insight
into events that happened from the time he was born until the present
day. He is a severe asthmatic and witness to many miracles the least of
which is his own cure.
Jeremiah Land – He is the father of the Land family and because of surviving being pulled into a tornado, he is very devout and as Reuben witnesses, the performer of many miracles.
Davy Land – After his girlfriend and later his family are attacked by Israel Finch and Tommy Basco, the town bullies, sixteen year old Davy sets a trap at his own home and shoots them both to death. He is arrested, because he is accused of not just defending his home, and put on trial. However, he escapes his jail cell and heads for the Badlands of North Dakota. Soon, his family follows, trying to find him and bring him home.
Swede Land – She is the nine year-old sister of Reuben and Davy and is extremely intelligent. She is a writer of an epic poem based on a character named Sunny Sundown whose exploits mirror what happens to her brother, Davy, and the rest of her family.
Martin Andreeson – He is the “putrid Fed” who goes after Davy Land when he escapes his jail cell and crosses state lines. He is hated by the children for seeking their brother and dogging their steps, but he gives his life when Jape Waltzer learns of his pursuit from Reuben.
Roxanna Cawley – She is the woman who opens her gas tanks, her propane tank, and her home to the Land family when their car will go no farther. She soon becomes the mother the children have never had and the woman that Jeremiah marries.
Jape Waltzer – He is the dangerous and very strange man who is also on the run and is living in an abandoned shack on Lonnie Ford’s ranch. Davy comes to stay there when Reuben finally finds him. Waltzer is the one who tries to kill all of their family.