Peace Like a River

Jape Waltzer Character Analysis

Jape Waltzer is an outlaw who takes it upon himself to help Davy. He lives in a shack in the hills of North Dakota with his “daughter,” Sara, whom he bought from her father and intends to marry when she's old enough. Mr. Waltzer is very engaging but extremely dangerous. He often seems insane and he is insistent that the world is going to end, though it's indicated that he doesn't believe in God. Reuben never learns why Mr. Waltzer is running from the law in the first place, and the novel implies that Waltzer kills Mr. Andreeson for trying to hunt Davy down. Mr. Waltzer remains a mystery, and he makes his final appearance in the novel when, after Davy helps Sara escape from the forced marriage he has planned for her, he shoots Reuben and Jeremiah, killing Jeremiah. In Swede's epic poem about the family’s journey to find Davy, Mr. Waltzer becomes the villainous character Valdez.
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Jape Waltzer Character Timeline in Peace Like a River

The timeline below shows where the character Jape Waltzer appears in Peace Like a River. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Throbbing Heart of News
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...in a lot of trouble, but has been good to Davy. The friend's name is Jape Waltzer. Reuben continues to panic about not seeing Davy again. When they reach the hill... (full context)
The Little Man's Country
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...continue on and make small talk. Reuben offers Davy gingersnaps and asks if he and Jape live in a tepee. Davy turns around and tells Reuben in a serious tone to... (full context)
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...a lit window of a cabin instead of a tepee. As they ride towards it, Mr. Waltzer steps out. He helps Reuben off the horse and makes him feel welcome. Reuben notices... (full context)
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Mr. Waltzer leans down to Reuben and asks Reuben what he'd say if he was told that... (full context)
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Mr. Waltzer invites Reuben to sit at the table in the cabin, and tells Reuben to ask... (full context)
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Mr. Waltzer answers that this place is a good one to wait for the world to change.... (full context)
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Mr. Waltzer calls for Sara to prepare dinner as Davy enters the cabin. Davy offers to help... (full context)
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Reuben suddenly feels very tired and looks down. Mr. Waltzer accuses him of praying to God for the food, and says that Reuben needs to... (full context)
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...a loud squeal comes from behind the sheets and a small screeching pig runs into Mr. Waltzer 's lap. Mr. Waltzer calms the pig and calls for Sara. She emerges from behind... (full context)
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Mr. Waltzer asks Reuben what he wants to do with his life, and Reuben answers that he'd... (full context)
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Reuben dreams of the man with the skin bag again and wakes to Mr. Waltzer 's face close to his own. Mr. Waltzer explains that Davy is getting his horse... (full context)
Winning Her Hand
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...Davy is waiting for Reuben behind the barn again that night with the news that Mr. Waltzer is gone for the night. Reuben is relieved; he'd been dreading seeing Mr. Waltzer again.... (full context)
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...since he has to go on anyway. On another night, Davy explains that Sara isn't Mr. Waltzer 's real daughter—he "got her" from a man in Utah. Reuben can't fathom why a... (full context)
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Reuben asks Davy if he's afraid of Mr. Waltzer . Davy says he isn't, he just listens closely when Mr. Waltzer is around. Davy... (full context)
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On Reuben's second visit, Sara asks if Mr. Waltzer showed Reuben his missing fingers. She explains that his fingers were damaged when a tow... (full context)
Boy Ready
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...hears a horse neigh. Reuben goes with Davy to the shack that night and tells Mr. Waltzer that Andreeson is closing in. Mr. Waltzer is shoeing a horse and seems unconcerned. He... (full context)
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Over dinner, Mr. Waltzer refuses to speak of Andreeson. Mr. Waltzer tells the table about his own amazing sense... (full context)
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...the human body in the cold. She mentions cannibalism, which Reuben finds especially disconcerting, since Mr. Waltzer also once mentioned cannibalism. Reuben wonders if Mr. Waltzer would eat Davy or Sara first.... (full context)
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...that he'd found someone who'd seen Davy. Reuben tells Dad that Andreeson's man is called Jape Waltzer, he's with Davy, and he’s surely going to kill Andreeson. (full context)
The Ledger of Our Decisions
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The next morning, Reuben sits with the posse that will ride on horseback to Mr. Waltzer 's cabin and take Davy. Mr. Ford is there, as well as Mr. Juval, a... (full context)
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...turncoat, and if he wishes he'd kept quiet. Reuben insists that Davy isn't the problem; Mr. Waltzer is. Reuben explains to the reader that the night before, Mr. Juval had seemed interested... (full context)
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...landscape. He questions whether he did the right thing ratting out Davy, and thinks that Mr. Waltzer is certainly crazy and therefore it's silly to ascribe meaning to his not caring about... (full context)
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Snuggled against Mr. Ford's horse, Reuben cries and prays for Davy, Andreeson, Sara, and Mr. Waltzer . When he hears Mr. Ford speak, Reuben scrambles back to the thicket. He dribbles... (full context)
The Red Farm
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Reuben tells one investigator that Mr. Waltzer surely put Andreeson's body in a lignite vein, but the investigator seems uninterested. Swede snappily... (full context)
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...up the driveway bearing Davy and Sara. The reunion is joyful. Though they don't mention Mr. Waltzer by name, they share that he'd decided it was time for Sara to be a... (full context)
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...of his escape from jail and his following exploits eluding the law. He doesn't mention Mr. Waltzer , and Reuben believes this is Davy being considerate of Sara, who owes Mr. Waltzer... (full context)
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Jape Waltzer sits with a rifle beside the farm's granary. The Lands don't see him, though... (full context)
The Curious Music That I Hear
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Reuben tells the reader that while he was away, Jape Waltzer shot at the Ford and the house several times. Roxanna called the sheriff, Dr.... (full context)
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Jape Waltzer was never caught, much like Valdez. Davy eventually tells Reuben that Waltzer bludgeoned Andreeson... (full context)