The Children of Men

by

P. D. James

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Children of Men can help.

Rolf Character Analysis

The leader of The Five Fishes, an engineer in the electricity-supply industry, and Julian’s husband, Rolf has a “dark masculinity” about him and an impatient, jealous, and ambitious personality. He does not particularly like or trust Theo, nor does Theo like or trust him. Theo sees Rolf as power-hungry, and believes that Rolf is actually motivated by a desire to usurp Xan’s “absolute power for himself” rather than to promote justice, compassion, or moral indignation like the rest of The Five Fishes. Rolf is the one who concocts the plan to find a safehouse for Julian in the wake of Gascoigne’s capture by the State Security Police, though he does not remain with The Five Fishes for the entirety of their journey. Once he discovers that Luke is the father of Julian’s child, he not only abandons the group but goes to London to turn them in to Xan in hopes of accruing favor for himself. Rolf’s actions ultimately show that Theo’s assessment of him was accurate—he was motivated not by ideals, but by lust for power.
Get the entire The Children of Men LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Children of Men PDF

Rolf Character Timeline in The Children of Men

The timeline below shows where the character Rolf appears in The Children of Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...and a former Council member, and that two members of her group—Luke, a priest, and Rolf, her husband and the group’s leader—suggested she approach Theo and ask him to meet with... (full context)
Chapter 8
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...The man comes toward Theo, and the two face each other “like adversaries.” This man, Rolf, is handsome, young enough to have missed being an Omega by just a few years.... (full context)
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...his forties, has a “pale, sensitive face,” and his “frailty [is] in stark contrast to Rolf’s dark masculinity.” (full context)
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...Council in the first place. Theo asks the group if they’re a religious one, which Rolf vehemently denies. Miriam explains that while Luke and Julian are Christians, their group only meets... (full context)
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Theo asks Rolf why the group doesn’t try to go before the Warden and the Council themselves. Rolf... (full context)
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Rolf accuses Theo of having come to meet with the group despite having no intention of... (full context)
Chapter 14
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...things, and have no money, influence, or backing. He warns her of getting sucked into Rolf’s grab at ambition. Julian tells Theo that she cannot leave Rolf, and that she is... (full context)
Chapter 20
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
...is Luke pointing at him, and Theo is not in bed but in a car. Rolf pounds on the windows of the car and screams “You’ve killed Julian!” over and over. (full context)
Chapter 21
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Miriam and Rolf both agree that Julian should have the baby on her own, away from the Council’s... (full context)
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Theo asks the group what their plan is. Rolf states that they want to find an empty cottage or shelter somewhere remote where Julian... (full context)
Chapter 22
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...At the car, after one last attempt to change Julian’s mind, Theo agrees to drive. Rolf reminds Theo that he is only with the group “because [being] the Warden’s cousin might... (full context)
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Rolf instructs Theo to drive over the border and into Wales. He outlines a plan to... (full context)
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...linens to provide Julian with a comfortable birthing bed. Miriam tells Theo not to let Rolf or Julian know that he has a gun. Once outside, Theo and Miriam lock up... (full context)
Chapter 23
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...herself. On one of the stops, the group all gets out to stretch their legs. Rolf confronts Theo, and tells him that their “expedition” cannot have “two leaders.” Rolf insists that... (full context)
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Rolf offers to let Theo serve as his personal adviser when Rolf, as the father of... (full context)
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Theo restrains himself from lashing out and telling Rolf that once Xan sees Rolf as a threat, the government will extract his sperm to... (full context)
Chapter 24
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Rolf drives quickly and recklessly, and soon punctures a tire. The group gets the car off... (full context)
Chapter 25
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...the ground. Tea is brewing, and Julian and Luke are off in the woods praying. Rolf asks Theo what he believes in. Theo tells him he believes nothing. Rolf admits to... (full context)
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...from the car, praying at a makeshift altar. Theo returns to the car, and tells Rolf that Luke and Julian appear to be nearly done. Theo wonders about the relationship between... (full context)
Chapter 26
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
...group’s hours spent dozing, talking, and playing games with sticks and stones. Even the hot-tempered Rolf is behaving. (full context)
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
As night falls, the group prepares to set out again—Rolf has repaired the tire. Theo writes that he has “no need” of his diary any... (full context)
Chapter 27
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...even if they appeal to the Omega’s humanity by pointing out Julian’s pregnancy. Theo tells Rolf that when the Omegas inevitably crack up the car and force the group out, Rolf... (full context)
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...rest of the group join their dance. When one of the Omegas reaches for Julian, Rolf grabs her and they make a run for it. They must climb over a low... (full context)
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
While the Omegas are distracted with the car, Theo and Rolf go for Luke’s body, which has been battered and torn beyond recognition. They bring it... (full context)
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
...Julian’s unusual calmness, which Miriam attributes to her faith in God, and they wonder whether Rolf too will be able to calm himself. Miriam goes off to attend to Rolf, while... (full context)
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Rolf returns to the group, and tells them that they must bury Luke at first light.... (full context)
Chapter 28
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
At daylight, Rolf, having left the group to explore their surroundings, announces that they cannot stay where they... (full context)
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
Once the service is over, Rolf announces that he is going to get some rest. Tonight, he says, the group will... (full context)
Chapter 29
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...is early evening when Theo wakes up. Julian stands over him, and tells him that Rolf has left the group for good. Theo insists that Rolf won’t betray them, but Julian... (full context)
Chapter 31
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...the night. Theo switches off the radio, unable to bear his guilt. Miriam deduces that Rolf has reached Xan, but states that their group’s “one comfort” is that he has no... (full context)