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.
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
The Little Man's Country
Winning Her Hand
...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)
The Ledger of Our Decisions
...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)
...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)
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
...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)
The Curious Music That I Hear