The Wanderer

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Stew Character Analysis

The father of Brian, brother of Dock and Mo, and uncle of Sophie and Cody, Stew shares his son’s keen intellect and obsessive sense of organization. He’s always saying that nobody tells him anything, and Sophie describes him as someone who’s always worrying. Like his son, Stew is a more static character when compared to his peers (his brothers), but The Wanderer’s encounter with the wave does shake him up a bit and change him a little. After the wave hits, Stew remarks how, when you have children, you reach a certain point where all you can do is pray that they’ll be okay, since you have to give up trying to protect and control them all the time. Like others of the crew, Stew comes to understand that life is fragile, and not entirely controllable.

Stew Quotes in The Wanderer

The The Wanderer quotes below are all either spoken by Stew or refer to Stew. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Passage of Time  Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the HarperCollins edition of The Wanderer published in 2011.
V. Wind and Waves Quotes

I could understand what he was saying, but I wondered if the same was true of children, that sometimes you can’t control things and sometimes you have to let go. Maybe you even have to let go of your parents. But then I was all muddled in my head and I couldn’t make sense of anything, not even where I was or why I was there.

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker), Stew
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:

Sophie writes this in response to a moment she shared with Uncle Stew as The Wanderer nears the coast of Ireland. Uncle Stew was saying that when it comes to being a parent, sometimes you have to just let go of your children and pray that they’ll be okay—that, eventually, you have to let go of trying to control everything about your child’s life.

Sophie reverses Stew’s statement by considering that maybe children eventually have to let go of their parents. It seems significant that Sophie writes, in the very next sentence, that her head started to get “muddled.” It seems as if the thought that children have to let go of their parents has troubled her and unsettled her in some way.

This makes sense, though, for it’s precisely what Sophie has had (understandably) a very hard time doing—letting go of, or moving on from, her original parents. By trying to block their memory out of her mind, she hasn’t let go of them; rather, she’s simply buried them deeper into her psyche. The idea of letting go of one’s parents, then, confuses her, precisely because she hasn’t let go. To truly let go of her parents, she’d have to remember them, and thereby come to terms with their death in order to move on with her life.

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Stew Character Timeline in The Wanderer

The timeline below shows where the character Stew appears in The Wanderer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
I. Preparations
Men and Women Theme Icon
...uncles and cousins to visit her grandfather, Bompie, in England. She says that her uncles Stew and Mo tried to dissuade her from joining them on the trip—they told her that... (full context)
Men and Women Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...them for two weeks, making repairs on their boat, “The Wanderer.” She describes her Uncle Stew as a worrywart, and his son Brian as a “photocopy” of him, the two both... (full context)
II. Shakedown
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...they’re going to stop, though Sophie doesn’t say why. Sophie also tells us that Uncle Stew came up with the idea that everyone aboard the ship should teach something to the... (full context)
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
...is headed for Martha’s Vineyard. Cody, she adds, annoys his father (Mo), Brian, and Uncle Stew by never saying any of the sailing terminology correctly. She says that they arrived at... (full context)
The Passage of Time  Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...Sophie writes another entry, and says that Cody is still getting on Mo, Brian, and Stew’s nerves by refusing to use the proper sailing terminology. Brian tries to teach everyone points... (full context)
IV. Under Way
Men and Women Theme Icon
...journal entry, she describes how one morning on The Wanderer, she overhears Uncle Dock and Stew having a discussion in the galley—Uncle Stew has been fired from his job. When she... (full context)
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...Mo was actually enthusiastic about teaching. He also says that it’s nice that Brian and Stew, the two know-it-alls, don’t know the radio code, so it’s something everyone’s learning at the... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
27. Insurance.Sophie writes about a conversation she had with Uncle Stew; she asked him about what he did for a living (before he was fired), and... (full context)
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...which rope goes through) on one side of a sail had all popped, and Uncle Stew and Brian were looking for someone to blame. Naturally, they both pointed their fingers at... (full context)
The Passage of Time  Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
33. Life. In her next journal entry, Sophie asks Uncle Stew if he knew Rosalie and if Dock liked her a lot. Stew answers yes to... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
...because his father’s been bickering at him, and because of other chaos aboard the ship—Uncle Stew and Brian arguing, things crashing on his head, etc. Cody says that, whenever he does... (full context)
V. Wind and Waves
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
...Alone. Sophie writes that, when she was at the helm, she turned and saw Uncle Stew with his arm around Brian, and Uncle Mo with his arm around Cody, and then... (full context)
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
...pounding day and knight, and about every 20 minutes a wave fills the cockpit. Uncle Stew is seasick, and everyone is covering his shifts. (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
...with a distinctively high curl. She shouts to Cody and Dock, warning them (Mo and Stew are below deck), and she sees the wave hit Cody hard. Suddenly, Sophie is inside... (full context)
The Passage of Time  Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
...onto the deck (from the mast) flat on her back. After the wave passed, Uncle Stew, peeking out of the main hatch, grabbed Sophie’s harness and pulled her down the hatch.... (full context)
The Passage of Time  Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...Wanderer has sails again (in Wet), Sophie writes an entry saying that Brian and Uncle Stew have been using the sextant for navigation, since the GPS is broken. Sophie says that... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...seem to know how to interpret his father’s new behavior. Sophie also says that Uncle Stew seems calmer and nicer, even now, after the nearly fatal wave, when there are so... (full context)
VI. Land
Men and Women Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
62. Land. Cody adds that Uncle Stew and Mo got into a big argument. Stew was wondering who was going to get... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...downstairs before dinner, Brian demanded that Dock tell everyone what happened to Sophie’s parents. Uncle Stew wants to know, too, and Brian says he still thinks that Sophie is lying about... (full context)
The Passage of Time  Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...says that Jonah is away at camp. He says the same thing to Mo and Stew. When Cody and Brian step forward, Bompie identifies them as Mo and Stew; when Sophie... (full context)
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...entry, Sophie says that, even though Bompie was so weak and bedridden, it didn’t stop Stew and Mo from arguing about whether they should take Bompie back to America or not.... (full context)
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...done. He made one for Bompie of him sitting in bed, eating pie; one for Stew of him using a sextant with Brian; one for Brian of him taking up a... (full context)