The Wars

The Wars

by

Timothy Findley

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Mrs. Ross Character Analysis

The wife of Thomas Ross and the mother of Robert, Rowena, Stuart, and Peggy Ross. Having lost both her younger brother Monty Miles Raymond and her daughter Rowena in tragic accidents, she is plagued by grief and self-blame that only worsens after Robert ships off to fight in World War I. Mrs. Ross fruitlessly pursues retribution for her personal traumas as well as for the war itself—she has Rowena’s pet rabbits killed to avenge her daughter’s death and cries out at God over the injustice of sending young men like Robert off to die in battle. Mrs. Ross becomes increasingly paranoid about death while Robert is overseas, obsessing over his letters and blaming herself for the dangers he faces as a soldier. She ultimately punishes herself by falling into alcoholism and forcing herself to take long walks in the harsh Canadian winter that mirror Robert’s own struggle with the elements during war. Her close friend, Miss Davenport, moves in with the Ross family as Mrs. Ross loses coherency and becomes unable to fulfill her role as a wife and mother. When Mrs. Ross receives the news that Robert is missing in action, she is so distraught that she claims to go blind. Unlike her husband, Mrs. Ross does not attend Robert’s burial after he passes away at St. Aubyn’s.

Mrs. Ross Quotes in The Wars

The The Wars quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Ross or refer to Mrs. Ross. 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:
Trauma and War Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Australia edition of The Wars published in 1995.
Part 1, Chapter 9 Quotes

All these actors were obeying some kind of fate we call “revenge.” Because a girl had died—and her rabbits had survived her.

Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 22 Quotes

“I do not understand. I don’t. I won’t. I can’t. Why is this happening to us, Davenport? What does it mean—to kill your children? Kill them and then…go in there and sing about it! What does that mean?” She wept—but angrily.

Related Characters: Mrs. Ross (speaker), Robert Ross, Miss Davenport
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 29 Quotes

But Mrs. Ross just stood at the windows of the private car and was afraid to go outdoors. Her mind was full of trolley cars and she knew that if she tried to cross the tracks, then she and everyone would be struck down. Instead, she waved from behind the glass and she watched her boy depart and her husband standing in his black fur coat—it seemed for hours—with his arm in the air and the snow falling down around him. “Come on back to the raf’, Huck, honey.” And this was what they called the wars.

Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4 Quotes

Robert I discovered was a very private man. His temper, you know, was terrible. Once when he thought he was alone and unobserved I saw him firing his gun in the woods at a young tree. It was a sight I’d rather not have seen. He destroyed it absolutely. Other times he would throw things down and break them on the ground…he had a great deal of violence inside and sometimes it emerged this way with a gesture and other times it showed in his expression when you found him sitting alone on the terrace or staring out of a window.

Related Characters: Lady Juliet d’Orsey (speaker), Robert Ross, Mrs. Ross
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mrs. Ross Character Timeline in The Wars

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Ross appears in The Wars. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 3
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
...a series of the Ross’s family photos. The snapshots feature Robert, his parents Thomas and Mrs. Ross , and his siblings Peggy, Stuart, and Rowena. The Rosses were a wealthy family who... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...dies on Monday, the day after the fall. Though they loved Rowena, Mr. Ross and Mrs. Ross are emotionally prepared for her death since, at twenty-five, their daughter had already outlived her... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Mrs. Ross insists that the rabbits must be killed since they belonged to Rowena, and Robert objects... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 8
Trauma and War Theme Icon
After arguing with Robert, Mrs. Ross retires to her bedroom and refuses to open the door when Tom knocks. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 9
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
At Rowena’s funeral the following Thursday, Tom and Mrs. Ross are stoic. Peggy’s boyfriend, Clinton Brown, is there in his soldier’s uniform, and Robert thinks... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
...the parlor. After they have left, he can hear his family arguing about the rabbits. Mrs. Ross continues to insist that Robert must kill them because he loved Rowena, and eventually becomes... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 10
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
After the fight with Teddy, Robert soaks his aches and bruises in the bathtub. Mrs. Ross , coming into the bathroom with a cigarette and empty glass, sits on the toilet... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Mrs. Ross breaks into a fit of laughter, but Robert can see that she is not hysterical.... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
After a period of silence, Mrs. Ross suddenly turns on Robert. She tells him that Rowena did not belong to him because... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 14
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
Throughout the autumn of 1915, it rains heavily in North America and Europe. Tom and Mrs. Ross shower Robert with gifts of winter clothing and food. Since the Canadian forces are a... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 20
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
...decides to complete his own marathon by running around the block twenty-six times after supper. Mrs. Ross and the maid are sure that he will die, but Tom encourages his son. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 22
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
The day after Robert ships off for England, Mrs. Ross ’s friend Miss Davenport accompanies the rest of the family to church. Mrs. Ross refuses... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
...compares the troops fighting in World War I to holy wars and ancient Empires, and Mrs. Ross leaves in outrage when he speaks about Christmas. Accompanied by Miss Davenport, Mrs. Ross goes... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Mrs. Ross notices a little girl staring at her as she weeps. Realizing that she should not... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 28
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
...of their houses and shops to see the animals. In a letter to Tom and Mrs. Ross , Robert minimizes the negative aspects of the voyage and writes that the war seems... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 29
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
When Mrs. Ross was a young woman about to be married to Tom, her brother Monty Miles Raymond... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
...the idea of going to meet his son in Montreal before he is shipped off. Mrs. Ross comes along on the train and Tom reads her Huckleberry Finn. The next morning, Mrs.... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 30
Trauma and War Theme Icon
From his post in Europe, Robert writes formal letters to Tom, Mrs. Ross , Peggy, Stuart, and even the family’s dog, Bimbo. The letters are laid in a... (full context)
Part 3
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
The novel flashes back to January 1916, from the perspective of Robert’s mother. Mrs. Ross begins to seek comfort in rain and snow, forcing Miss Davenport to walk outside with... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
In February, the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa are burned down, and Mrs. Ross pores over the news. She tells Miss Davenport that her country is being destroyed by... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Mrs. Ross obsessively rereads, memorizes, and catalogues Robert’s letters. She writes him rambling, illegible responses. Tom feels... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 9
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
On June 16, 1916, Robert’s family receives word that he is missing in action. Mrs. Ross refuses to get dressed and wanders around the house, crying out in a drunken stupor.... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
That evening, Mrs. Ross stands on the landing of the stairs, drops her bottle of alcohol, and lets out... (full context)