Half Broke Horses

by

Jeannette Walls

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Lily’s first child, named for her favorite flower (rose), Catholicism (Mary), and a useful herb. As a child Rosemary is fearless and accident-prone. Though Lily worries about her safety, she admires her adventurous spirit and gumption. Both rambunctious and sensitive, Rosemary cares deeply for animals, and occasionally sets her parents’ cattle free. In an attempt to prove she can handle ranch life, she later asks her father to teach her to skin a cow. She finds the process deeply disturbing and the family does not speak of it again. Artistic from a young age, Rosemary dreams of being a painter and is kicked out of Catholic school for being too disruptive. Lily accepts that Rosemary is not meant for academia, though insists she get a teaching certificate when she goes to college so that she has something to fall back on. Rosemary is also beautiful and resembles Helen, though Lily vows never to tell her this. At thirteen, Rosemary develops a crush on her parents’ ranch hand Fidel Hanna. After she is caught swimming on the Havasupai reservation with him, a furious and distraught Lily beats her to teach her a lesson. In response, Rosemary says she will never to beat her own children, and Lily reflects that her daughter stops listening to her from that day forward. Rosemary continues to butt heads with Lily as she gets older, especially in her choice to marry the unstable Rex Walls. Insisting that no place has ever felt like home since their family left the ranch, Rosemary says she may never settle down. Lily laments that Rosemary is the one child she could never teach. She calls both her and Rex “half broke horses” as they drive away at the end of the novel, signifying their inability to be tamed. Rosemary (who later changes her name to Rose Mary) is the mother of the book’s author, Jeannette Walls.

Rosemary Quotes in Half Broke Horses

The Half Broke Horses quotes below are all either spoken by Rosemary or refer to Rosemary. 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:
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Half Broke Horses published in 2010.
Chapter 5 Quotes

"Just you remember," I said, "that this is what could happen when an animal gets freedom. Animals act like they hate to be penned up, but the fact is, they don't know what to do with freedom. And a lot of times it kills them."

Related Characters: Lily Casey Smith (speaker), Rosemary
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

But the Jesuits were used to dealing with untamed ranch boys, and they regarded Little Jim as one more rambunctious rapscallion. Rosemary's teachers, however, saw her as a misfit. Most of the girls at the academy were demure, frail things, but Rosemary played with her pocketknife, yodeled in the choir, peed in the yard, and caught scorpions in a jar she kept under her bed. She loved to leap down the school's main staircase and once took it in two bounds only to come crashing into the Mother Superior. She was behaving more or less the way she did on the ranch, but what seemed normal in one situation can seem outright peculiar in another, and the nuns saw Rosemary as a wild child.

Related Characters: Lily Casey Smith (speaker), Rosemary, Little Jim
Related Symbols: Half Broke Horses
Page Number: 192
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

I felt there was a lot more I could say about the subject of danger. I could have given her an entire lecture on it, talking about my dad getting his head staved in by a horse when he was three, about my Chicago friend Minnie getting killed when her hair got caught in machinery, about my sister, Helen, taking her own life after accidentally getting pregnant. Life came with as much adventure and danger as any one body needed. You didn't have to go chasing after them. But the fact of the matter was, Rosemary hadn't really listened to what I had to say ever since that time we visited the Havasupai and I gave her the whipping for swimming with Fidel Hanna.

Page Number: 257
Explanation and Analysis:

I shook my head and looked at the lilies. "I could cut you all the slack in the world, but I still think my daughter needs an anchor."

"The problem with being attached to an anchor," he said, "is it's damned hard to fly."

Related Characters: Lily Casey Smith (speaker), Rex Walls (speaker), Rosemary
Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:

As Rosemary climbed into the car, Rex patted her behind like he owned it, then got in beside her. They were both still laughing as Rex gunned the motor the way he always did.

Jim put his arm around me and we watched them take off up the street, heading out into open country like a couple of half-broke horses.

Related Characters: Lily Casey Smith (speaker), Jim Smith, Rosemary, Rex Walls
Related Symbols: Half Broke Horses
Page Number: 265
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Half Broke Horses LitChart as a printable PDF.
Half Broke Horses PDF

Rosemary Character Timeline in Half Broke Horses

The timeline below shows where the character Rosemary appears in Half Broke Horses. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
...tells fortunes and says the baby girl will be “a wanderer.” Lily names the baby Rosemary and notes that she looks like Helen. Considering Helen’s beauty to have been a curse,... (full context)
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
...not been claimed by any ewe, and Jim declares that it is meant to be Rosemary’s pet. They name it Mei-Mei, Chinese for “little sister,” and it follows Rosemary everywhere. (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
...with badges and guns come to the house and ask about liquor being illegally sold. Rosemary throws a fit when she sees the officers, and Lily insists she is just a... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...and hire twelve cowboys to drive the cattle to the ranch. Lily tries to keep Rosemary away from them. Rosemary is like a “half-broke” horse herself, Lily thinks, in that she... (full context)
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
Lily senses a growing tension between herself and Rosemary, who has become more rambunctious after spending time out repairing fences with Jim. Lily drills... (full context)
Chapter 6
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...to a spigot at the house. Lily paints the rooms different colors, something the artistic Rosemary especially appreciates. Lily decides she wants to buy Hackberry, and the family begins saving every... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
...first flight and feels as though she is seeing the world for the first time. Rosemary is surprised she spent money since they are supposed to be saving; Lily responds that... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...settle in the town. Main Street is tiny, and Lily shares the teacherage room with Rosemary and Little Jim. There are no cars, and people are so poor that the children... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...side. She drives 200 miles every day to pick up and drop off her students. Rosemary and Little Jim also attend the class, and she paddles them often to make sure... (full context)
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...cousins visit from Brooklyn, she agrees to drive them to the Grand Canyon and takes Rosemary with her. Lily is appalled at how spoiled and delicate the Brooklyners seem. They ask... (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
...Christmas is like, and tries to convince them that Santa Claus has brought them gifts. Rosemary is not fooled. The kids are excited about Christmas lights, though, and the family cuts... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
...Johnson’s son Johnny Johnson is in Lily’s class, and a real trouble maker. He kisses Rosemary and sticks his hand up another girl’s dress, causing Lily to slap him. He hits... (full context)
Chapter 7
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
Rosemary and Little Jim love to play together, and especially love to ride horses. They frequently... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...relishing academic life and feeling like it is a break from the ranch chores. Neither Rosemary nor Little Jim take to boarding school, and Rosemary especially is viewed as a “wild... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Despite being tested and proving bright, Rosemary is not allowed back at the academy after her second year because she is too... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
Lily trades beef for gasoline ration coupons and sets off with Rosemary in the hearse. They run out of gas by Tempe, however. Lily goes into a... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...he appears very frail and is too sick to be moved. Lily is proud that Rosemary remains stoic beside her grandfather, and thinks that she has “a brain, a spine, and... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
...or digging into their savings meant to buy Hackberry. On the way home, she has Rosemary try her hand at persuading men to give them gas, and she takes to it... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
...take the cattle to market when the train is available in December, and they bring Rosemary and Little Jim to help. Rosemary roots for the cattle, and sometimes tries to let... (full context)
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Rosemary declares that she wants to learn to skin a steer, something she will need to... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
...the reservation, to help. He says they are “coming to inspect the savages.” Lily takes Rosemary and picks up Miss Pearl and a nurse, Marion Finch, both of whom she views... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
...are just making them unfit for both the outside world and reservation life—like he is. Rosemary declares that it’s like the Garden of Eden, and says she wishes she could live... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
The next night Lily wakes to discover that Rosemary had snuck out to go swimming with Fidel and his friends in her underwear. Clarice... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Lily sends Rosemary back to boarding school. The Poms declare their intention to sell the ranch. Gaiter—a famous... (full context)
Chapter 8
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Air-raids sound through the city every Saturday. When Hiroshima happens, Rosemary is deeply disturbed by the atom bomb and disagrees with Lily that it was for... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...red lipstick and a push-up bra. Lily becomes worried that he is cheating and enlists Rosemary to spy on him. She follows him at lunch one day, but only finds him... (full context)
Chapter 9
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...a one-room schoolhouse without bureaucrats second-guessing her. Because the school only goes through eighth grade, Rosemary and Little Jim go to boarding school once again. Lily gets Rosemary a string of... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
 Both Rosemary and Little Jim attend Arizona State. Little Jim is now bigger than his father and... (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
After her third year in college, Rosemary meets Rex Walls while swimming in a canyon with her friends. He is from West... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
Lily continues to be suspicious of Rex, who is charming but unstable. Rosemary likes Rex specifically because he has a wild streak, and views life with him as... (full context)
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
The next day Lily insists that Rex is dangerous, but Rosemary says if you worry about danger you miss out on adventure. Lily notes that Rosemary... (full context)
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...shows up with a bouquet of lilies by way of apology. Lily still insists that Rosemary needs an anchor in her life, but Rex says that makes it “hard to fly.”... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
That spring, Rosemary announces she is going to marry Rex, causing Lily to remark that she is the... (full context)
Epilogue
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...the suburbs and start a family. Rex takes odd jobs and frequently smokes and drinks. Rosemary continues to paint and has many children, the second of whom dies as a baby.... (full context)