The Wars

The Wars

by

Timothy Findley

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Rowena Ross Character Analysis

The eldest child of Mr. Ross and Mrs. Ross and the sister of Robert, Peggy, and Stuart Ross. She is handicapped by a disease called hydrocephalus and spends her life bound to a wheelchair. Robert has taken a special liking to Rowena since she was a young child and he was a baby. As they grow up, he takes on the self-appointed role of Rowena’s “guardian.” At age twenty-five, Rowena accidentally falls out of her wheelchair and dies while she is playing with her beloved pet rabbits in the family’s stable. Although Stuart was the one who was supposed to be watching her when she fell, Robert blames himself for Rowena’s death and enlists in the army in order to escape his guilt and grief. He carries a photo of Rowena in his kit bag during his time overseas and is reminded of her by Rodwell’s love of animals.

Rowena Ross Quotes in The Wars

The The Wars quotes below are all either spoken by Rowena Ross or refer to Rowena 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 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 5, Chapter 5 Quotes

Robert sat on the mutilated mattress and opened his kit bag. Everything was there—including the picture of Rowena. Robert burned it in the middle of the floor. This was not an act of anger—but an act of charity.

Related Characters: Robert Ross, Rowena Ross
Related Symbols: The Four Elements
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:
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Rowena Ross Character Timeline in The Wars

The timeline below shows where the character Rowena 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
...snapshots feature Robert, his parents Thomas and Mrs. Ross, and his siblings Peggy, Stuart, and Rowena. The Rosses were a wealthy family who upheld a charitable public image and excluded Rowena... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...He is unsure of which direction go in and feels that he is paralyzed because Rowena was buried the day before. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
Rowena falls on a Sunday, when Stuart is supposed to be watching her. Robert, however, blames... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
The novel flashes back to the days leading up to Robert’s departure. Rowena’s fall happens during her beloved pastime of holding the rabbits that the family keep in... (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 vehemently. He begs his mother to give them away or let him... (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... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
...the rabbits. Mrs. Ross continues to insist that Robert must kill them because he loved Rowena, and eventually becomes frustrated and goes off to drink in her bedroom. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 10
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 “no one belongs to anyone.” Mrs. Ross accuses Robert... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 12
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...at his family cottage in Jackson’s Point and momentarily losing himself in a memory of Rowena. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...rabbits, and hedgehogs and keeps them under his bed. Seeing these animals reminds Robert of Rowena and her rabbits. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
...confuses Robert, since he has not felt called to support someone in this way since Rowena died. (full context)
Part 3
Trauma and War Theme Icon
...Davenport following behind. On some days, Mrs. Ross gets drunk and Davenport wheels her in Rowena’s wheelchair to the park. She dreads falling asleep, and the bumping of the wheelchair keeps... (full context)
Part 4
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
...deaths of 557,017 people thus far in the novel, including Monty Miles Raymond, Harris, and Rowena Ross. (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 5
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
...say goodbye and Poole leaves. Looking through his bag, Robert finds his only photograph of Rowena and burns it in the middle of the cell floor. (full context)
Part 5, Epilogue
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...and the last thing you see before putting on your coat is a photograph of Rowena on the back of the Ross family’s pony, Meg, with Robert holding her in place.... (full context)