Known only as "the priest" or "the whisky priest," acknowledging his alcoholism, he is educated, having spent some years studying in the United States, and once enjoyed the status of the priesthood. The son of a storekeeper, he became a priest not because of a religious calling but because of the comfortable lives priests enjoyed. As the last priest in Mexico known to the authorities, he has neither fled nor renounced the priesthood by marrying. Instead he remains, on the verge of flight but never following through, and ministers secretly to those who need him. He says later he became proud of being the only priest left and stayed longer than he should have. He has conceived a child and commits many other sins, small and large. He sees himself as a bad man and a bad priest, someone who should not be a martyr, but he still fulfills his duties, even when those duties lead to his death.
The lieutenant is an Indian, someone who seems to have been very badly treated in pre-revolutionary Mexico. Now, he has power and wants to remake the entire world so no child ever suffers the way he did. He is ruthless in his pursuit of the priest but shows unexpected generosity. He is bothered by the priest because the man is honest with him, not arrogant or judgmental, and, in the end, he feels regret about the priest's death, although he does not want to admit it.
The mestizo is a poor man who has lived a hard life. His defining physical feature is his lack of teeth; only the canines remain. He is sneaky and manipulative, always looking out for himself. He wants to turn in the priest to get the reward, but he wants to do it on his own terms so he doesn't have to share the reward with anyone. Once he has betrayed the priest, he still asks for forgiveness.