Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours

by

Lisa Wingate

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Mr. Riggs Character Analysis

The groundskeeper at Ida Murphy and Georgia Tann’s orphanage and Murphy’s cousin. Mr. Riggs is a frightening character for most of the children at the orphanage and there are rumors that if he can catch a child alone, he will hurt them. When Rill Foss and her siblings are brought to the orphanage, Mr. Riggs sneaks into their room and leaves peppermints on their pillow. Because of this, Camellia Foss thinks Riggs wants to be their friend. One day, however, Riggs gets Camellia alone and sexually assaults her. When Rill finds out, she tries to tell Miss Dodd, but Murphy denies that her cousin did it, fires Dodd, and punishes Rill by locking her in the basement for weeks. Later, when Rill is the last Foss child in the orphanage and moved to the upstairs bedroom with the rest of the kids, Riggs catches her out of bed and tries to force her down the stairs, but another staff member catches him and Rill gets away.

Mr. Riggs Quotes in Before We Were Yours

The Before We Were Yours quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Riggs or refer to Mr. Riggs. 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:
Personal Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Ballantine edition of Before We Were Yours published in 2017.
Chapter 14 Quotes

Her hand is knotted in a fist between us. I take it in mine, pry open her fingers to see what she’s holding, and the minute I do, all the cookies and ice cream from the party come up in my throat. Dirty, round peppermints are stuck so tight to my sister’s palm, they’re melted into her skin.

I close my eyes and shake my head and try not to know, but I do. My mind drags me kicking and screaming to Mrs. Murphy’s cellar, into the dark corner behind the stairs where ash coats the coal bin and the boiler furnace. I see thin, strong arms fighting, legs thrashing around. I see a big hand closing over a screaming mouth, the dirty, oily fingers squeezing so hard they leave four round bruises.

Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile
Chapter 16 Quotes

“Perhaps you should have thought of that before you invented some ridiculous story about your fictitious sister and poor Mr. Riggs.”

Blood pounds in my head. I try to make sense of what she’s saying, but I can’t.

“There never was any… Camellia. You and I both know that, don’t we, May? There were four of you when you came here. Two little sisters and one little brother. Only four. And we’ve done a marvelous job in finding homes, thus far. Good homes. And for that, you are most grateful, aren’t you?” She motions to Mrs. Pulnik. […] “There will be no more of this nonsense out of you. Do you understand?”

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Mr. Riggs Character Timeline in Before We Were Yours

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Riggs appears in Before We Were Yours. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...The worker leads them out of their room, past the man (whom the woman calls Mr. Riggs ) who gave them the peppermints. Camellia smiles at him as the nurse, Mrs. Pulnik,... (full context)
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...allowed to pass. The boys ask where Rill got peppermints and she tells them about Mr. Riggs . Camellia tells them Mr. Riggs is her friend, thinking it will scare the boys... (full context)
Chapter 12
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...to bring him back home—the devastated man cried on the porch for his son until Mr. Riggs carried him away. (full context)
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...avoid being caught by Mrs. Pulnik and because she’s afraid of what will happen if Mr. Riggs ever finds her alone there—there are rumors that Riggs hurts children and that if they... (full context)
Chapter 14
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...try to bathe her, however, Camellia puts up a huge fight and Mrs. Pulnik asks Mr. Riggs to bring a rope. Camellia is taken away and Rill doesn’t see her again. That... (full context)
Chapter 16
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...Camellia is. One of the older boys told Rill that he heard Mrs. Murphy tell Mr. Riggs that Camellia died in the closet, but Rill didn’t believe it. Rill hopes that Miss... (full context)
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...likes that she can rely on Miss Dodd. On the way upstairs, Miss Dodd asks Mr. Riggs to mix up some cleaner so she can clean the bed. She tells him the... (full context)
Injustice and Class Divisions Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...by her hair and chastises her for telling lies about life in the orphanage and Mr. Riggs . Murphy tells her that Miss Dodd has been fired and her siblings will be... (full context)
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...Murphy. Tann tells Rill she is a “wretched, ungrateful little thing” for telling lies about Mr. Riggs . Tann asks Rill if she’s just looking for attention, but Rill doesn’t know how... (full context)
Chapter 18
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
When Rill slips back into the house, she runs into Mr. Riggs on the stairs and he tries to force her down another staircase. A worker sees... (full context)
Chapter 20
Personal Identity Theme Icon
Child Trafficking, Heritage, and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...Rill is having fun until Darren says they can be friends. This reminds Rill of Mr. Riggs and she darts from the room to hide. (full context)