A Hope in the Unseen

by

Ron Suskind

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Cedric’s white roommate during his freshman year at Brown, Rob comes from a very different background, and the two boys have a number of conflicts based on their different perspectives on life. Cedric compares Rob to Wally Cleaver, the older brother in the 1950s television show Leave it to Beaver, the epitome of wholesome whiteness and prosperity. But while Rob is laid back, social, and uninterested in keeping his space clean (he’s used to having a maid to pick up after him), Cedric is completely the opposite, and they cannot seem to find a way to cohabitate without problems. They reconcile in their second year at Brown, when they no longer have to live together and can put aside their differences.
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Rob Burton Character Timeline in A Hope in the Unseen

The timeline below shows where the character Rob Burton appears in A Hope in the Unseen. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7: Goodbye to Yesterday
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...They have lunch together, and when they get back to Cedric’s room, his new roommate Rob is there, so Barbara decides that it is time for her to leave. Before driving... (full context)
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With Barbara gone, Cedric sits on his freshly made bed and begins to talk to Rob, his new roommate. Rob tells Cedric that he is from Marblehead, Massachusetts, that his father... (full context)
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On Saturday afternoon, Rob returns to his room after a morning of playing soccer, and enjoys a moment of... (full context)
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Cedric comes into the boys’ dorm room, and he and Rob discuss the fact that Cedric has lost his temporary ID and cannot eat in the... (full context)
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...to be recognized for something other than being black. The conversation moves on, and when Rob is talking, Cedric suddenly interrupts to announce that Rob is Wally Cleaver from the old... (full context)
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...their syllabi, and receive their first assignments. They discuss the classes afterwards, and Cedric tells Rob he is excited about his Richard Wright seminar, and likes his instructor, an African American... (full context)
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...references, calling one student Casey Kasem. When the question of roommates comes around, Cedric and Rob joke that they have big problems. Back in their room, they are both feeling relaxed... (full context)
Chapter 8: Fierce Intimacies
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Cedric is still trying to work out some ground rules with his roommate Rob, regarding control of the stereo. They have decided that whoever is in the room first... (full context)
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...he does not like them for being white. This also factors into his tension with Rob: Cedric often has to act as Rob’s social secretary, answering the door and the phone... (full context)
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...shot so low for this first semester. And during the midterm study period, he and Rob have been keeping their distance from one another, though Cedric still makes an effort to... (full context)
Chapter 10: A Bursting Heart
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The conflict between Rob and Cedric continues, as they each attempt to stand their ground regarding music and television... (full context)
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...comfortable after dinner and in conversation with Dr. Korb, who asks about his issues with Rob, how things are going with his tutor Helaine, and how he did on a particular... (full context)
Chapter 12: Let the Colors Run
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Back at Brown, there has been a positive change in the relationship between Cedric and Rob since they returned from break. One night, with the lights off, they talked about their... (full context)
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Cedric wanders down to Café Paragon, where Rob and his friends are celebrating Rob’s 19th birthday. Cedric realizes that he needs to overcome... (full context)
Chapter 13: A Place Up Ahead
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...in addition to his date with Chiniqua, he feels that things are going well with Rob, and he and Zayd are getting along very well now. The musical act for Brown’s... (full context)
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...reluctance to join in with his classmates came to a head the previous evening, when Rob invited him to join some of the kids from their unit at the Underground, the... (full context)
Chapter 14: Meeting the Man
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Nearing the very end of the year, the relationship between Rob and Cedric is strained again. They have been at war over their dorm sink, after... (full context)
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After his chemistry final, Rob wanders down to Café Paragon for a beer and some social time with friends before... (full context)
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Cedric is frustrated at himself, and at his inability to reciprocate Rob’s offer of peace until it was too late. He knows that he will replay the... (full context)
Epilogue
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Cedric and Rob did eventually become friends, and laughed together about their passive-aggressive sink decoration from freshman year.... (full context)