When Mrs. Ross was a young woman about to be married to Tom, her brother Monty Miles Raymond was hit by a trolley car and killed. Now, Mrs. Ross feels that the world is “fully of trolley cars” which haunt her dreams, and she begins to wear dark glasses to hide her eyes. As Mrs. Ross deteriorates, Miss Davenport moves into the Ross’s home to support her friend.
The revelation of Monty’s death explains why Mrs. Ross lashed out at Robert after Rowena’s accident—she has clearly become jaded by her trauma. Eyes are an ongoing symbol of human vulnerability throughout the novel, and Mrs. Ross’s decision to cover her eyes imply that she is ashamed of herself and feels guilty over the deaths of her loved ones and her bitter encouragement of Robert to join the army.
Once Robert is stationed overseas, Tom has 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. Ross drinks a third of a bottle of scotch and is too intoxicated to join her husband to meet Robert. Tom gives Robert a hamper full of food and the Colt revolver while Mrs. Ross stays on the train, afraid that if she goes outside everyone will be “struck down” by trolley cars.