The Winslow Boy

by

Terence Rattigan

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Ronnie Winslow Character Analysis

The “Winslow Boy” of the play’s title, fourteen-year-old Ronnie is the first character on stage, visibly frightened of the repercussions of being expelled from Osborne Naval College. He is alleged to have stolen a postal order worth a small sum of money and is terrified of his father, Arthur’s, reaction (even as he is thought by his siblings to be the favorite child). Ronnie professes his innocence from start to finish, with both Arthur and barrister Sir Robert Morton believing he is telling the truth. Even though Ronnie is the play’s titular character, he doesn’t play a huge role—realizing he is not in trouble with his father, Ronnie quickly settles into a new school and loses interest in his own case. In many ways, he’s just a typical boy, interested in how tall he is growing and wanting to tell his father about the cool things he has seen. He still does what is required of him, but doesn’t share the same passion for victory as his father, his sister Catherine, and Sir Robert. In one scene, for example, he desperately tries to stay awake as Arthur reads about the case’s proceedings from the newspaper. Ultimately, Ronnie is found not guilty—though like the rest of the family he isn’t in court at the time of the announcement. The audience, though, never knows for sure.

Ronnie Winslow Quotes in The Winslow Boy

The The Winslow Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Ronnie Winslow or refer to Ronnie Winslow. 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:
Principles and Sacrifice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Nick Hern Books edition of The Winslow Boy published in 2000.
Act 1 Quotes

Ronnie’s the good little boy, I’m the bad little boy. You’ve just stuck a couple of labels on us that nothing on earth is ever going to change.

Related Characters: Dickie Winslow (speaker), Ronnie Winslow, Arthur Winslow
Related Symbols: Gramophone
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

DICKIE: Who’s going to break the news to him eventually? I mean, someone’ll have to.

CATHERINE: Don’t let’s worry about that now.

DICKIE: Well, you can count me out. In fact, I don’t want to be within a thousand miles of that explosion.

Related Characters: Catherine Winslow (speaker), Dickie Winslow (speaker), Ronnie Winslow
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

ARTHUR: Why didn’t you come to me now? Why did you have to go and hide in the garden?

RONNIE: I don’t know, Father.

ARTHUR: Are you so frightened of me?

Related Characters: Ronnie Winslow (speaker), Arthur Winslow (speaker)
Page Number: 27-28
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2  Quotes

My gosh, I could just about murder that little brother of mine. What’s he have to go about pinching postal orders for? And why the hell does he have to get himself nabbed doing it?

Related Characters: Dickie Winslow (speaker), Ronnie Winslow, Arthur Winslow
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3 Quotes

ARTHUR: I know exactly what I’m doing, Grace. I’m going to publish my son’s innocence before the world, and for that end I am not prepared to weigh the cost.

GRACE: But the cost may be out of all proportion –

ARTHUR: It may be. That doesn’t concern me. I hate heroics, Grace. An injustice has been done. I am going to set it right, and there is no sacrifice in the world I am not prepared to make in order to do so.

Related Characters: Arthur Winslow (speaker), Grace Winslow (speaker), Ronnie Winslow, Sir Robert Morton
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4 Quotes

ARTHUR: It would appear, then, that we’ve won.

CATHERINE: Yes, Father, it would appear that we’ve won.

Related Characters: Arthur Winslow (speaker), Catherine Winslow (speaker), Ronnie Winslow, Violet
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Winslow Boy LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Winslow Boy PDF

Ronnie Winslow Character Timeline in The Winslow Boy

The timeline below shows where the character Ronnie Winslow appears in The Winslow Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
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...morning in the wealthy London borough of Kensington, not long before World War I. Fourteen-year-old Ronnie Winslow, dressed in the uniform of his naval college, stands in the living room—the furnishings... (full context)
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The Winslow maid, Violet, enters the room and is shocked to see Ronnie standing there. She tells him that the rest of the family are out at church,... (full context)
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Alone again, Ronnie takes a letter out of his pocket and looks at it miserably. For a moment,... (full context)
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...as scared of Arthur as he is. By and large, they are, she says; but Ronnie needn’t be scared as Arthur “worships” him. (full context)
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Ronnie comes to the window and calls for “Kate” (Catherine). His sudden appearance startles her. Ronnie... (full context)
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Ronnie shows Catherine the letter; she’s shocked by its contents. Furthermore, it’s addressed to Arthur; Catherine... (full context)
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Dickie re-enters the room, nonplussed to see Ronnie home early from Naval College. He greets Ronnie jovially, asking if he’s in trouble. Catherine... (full context)
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Dickie talks with Ronnie, learning that Ronnie has been expelled from college. When Ronnie tells him it’s for stealing—which... (full context)
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Grace rushes into the room and embraces Ronnie, who starts crying. She agrees not to tell Arthur anything yet, and Dickie goes upstairs... (full context)
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...relieves John from hiding in the dining room. She asks him how a child of Ronnie’s age could be “tortured” in this way. Learning of Ronnie’s misdemeanor, John gently tries to... (full context)
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Grace enters again and tells Catherine that Ronnie is now upstairs in bed. Arthur comes in, complaining about the state of the cellars.... (full context)
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...brought herself a glass. Violet says that the glass wasn’t for her, but for Master Ronnie. (full context)
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Arthur tells Violet that Ronnie isn’t due back for another couple of days, but she says she’s seen him with... (full context)
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At first, Arthur thinks that Ronnie is ill, but it quickly dawns on him that there must be a problem with... (full context)
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Arthur tells Violet to fetch Ronnie from upstairs. Grace protests that he is in bed, but Arthur insists on seeing him... (full context)
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Ronnie appears in his dressing gown, clearly fearful. Arthur asks why he isn’t in uniform; Ronnie... (full context)
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Arthur instructs Ronnie to tell him the truth about the stealing accusation; he says he’ll know if Ronnie... (full context)
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Arthur sends Ronnie back to bed, insisting that in the future “any son of mine will at least... (full context)
Act 2 
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...attentively over her shoulder. She reads the first letter, which offers support for “the Osborne Cadet”—Ronnie—in light of his “high-handed treatment by the Admiralty.” The letter goes on to praise Arthur... (full context)
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...case is a major distraction for the Navy when it should be concentrating on Germany’s rearmament—Ronnie’s case is a “storm in a teacup.” (full context)
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...from the Daily News. She says she wants to take a picture of Arthur and Ronnie; her paper specializes in “stories with a little heart … a father’s fight for his... (full context)
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...process they’ve already been through: they had to fight to even see the evidence against Ronnie. Eventually there was an inquiry, but in Arthur’s opinion that wasn’t conducted fairly either—Ronnie had... (full context)
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 Ronnie and Grace enter, clearly in high spirits. Ronnie excitedly tells Arthur that he has grown... (full context)
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 Posing with Ronnie, Arthur explains to Grace about Miss Barnes. Grace and Miss Barnes discuss the curtains. Ronnie... (full context)
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 Arthur tells Ronnie that his half term report was pretty fair, but Ronnie is more interested in talking... (full context)
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Grace goes upstairs to attend to Ronnie and prepare Arthur’s ointment. Arthur turns wearily to Catherine, saying he feels “suicidally inclined.” He... (full context)
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...his frustration to Catherine at having to leave Oxford. He says he could “just murder” Ronnie for stealing that postal order—and even more so for getting caught.  He leaves the room... (full context)
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Arthur and Grace come down. Arthur introduces himself to Sir Robert and tells him that Ronnie will be down soon. Sir Robert just wants to ask him a few questions; he... (full context)
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Ronnie comes in. Arthur explains that Sir Robert will ask Ronnie a few questions, and Sir... (full context)
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Sir Robert quickly begins interrogating Ronnie. Ronnie explains that he did go to the Post Office on the day of the... (full context)
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Sir Robert’s questions intensify. He gets Ronnie to admit that he had practiced the signature of his roommate, Elliot, whose postal order... (full context)
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Ronnie is increasingly tearful, asking Sir Robert whose side he is on. Sir Robert keeps pressing... (full context)
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Sir Robert says that by continuing to lie, Ronnie is bringing great strain upon his family. Catherine stands up, objecting strongly. Sir Robert says... (full context)
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...an air of indifference, Sir Robert asks Desmond to drop off the materials relevant to Ronnie’s case at his office in the morning. Desmond is surprised—but Sir Robert says, “the boy... (full context)
Act 3
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...10:30 p.m., Arthur is sitting in his favorite armchair, reading about the case—it’s headline news. Ronnie and Grace are listening; Ronnie is struggling to stay awake, while Grace is darning socks. (full context)
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...Arthur says happily, “it looks as if the First Lord’s having rather a rough passage.” Ronnie doesn’t reply, so Arthur wakes him up by sarcastically shouting that he hopes his reading... (full context)
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Grace thinks her “poor sleepy little lamb,” Ronnie, should go to bed. But Arthur says that Ronnie is the subject of “violent and... (full context)
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Arthur shouts at Ronnie again. Ronnie says he was listening, just with his eyes closed. Arthur continues reading: the... (full context)
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Grace puts a rug over Ronnie. Arthur says to her that he thinks this is a good time for her to... (full context)
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Arthur says he is going to publish Ronnie’s innocence before the world, and for that he is “not prepared to way the cost.”... (full context)
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Grace reacts angrily, pointing out that Ronnie doesn’t even care about the case—he’s happy at his new school. No one need ever... (full context)
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Grace continues her attack on Arthur. She says that Ronnie won’t thank him for the case when he’s older, and that Arthur isn’t being honest... (full context)
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Grace breaks down, and Arthur puts his arm around her. Ronnie wakes up a little, asking what the matter is. Arthur says to Ronnie that his... (full context)
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...the Government’s time. She says sometimes she has to laugh that it’s all about “Master Ronnie.” (full context)
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...it was hard not to. Catherine wants to know about Sir Robert’s previous interrogation of Ronnie—how he decided Ronnie was innocent. Sir Robert says that he if Ronnie was guilty he... (full context)
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...and an appeal. Now it’s even getting the parliament into a “frenzy.”  John points at Ronnie, still asleep, and says that he won’t mind if they stop. (full context)
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Catherine says she’s not even sure if Ronnie did or didn’t do it. She’s fighting the case because the government has “ignored a... (full context)
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Catherine says that if the parliament is ever too busy to discuss a case like Ronnie’s it will be to the detriment of the country as a whole. John complains that... (full context)
Act 4
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...months later, it’s a hot day in June and has been almost two years since Ronnie was expelled. The telephone rings incessantly. Dickie enters the room, looking hot and flustered. He's... (full context)
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...about his life and his thoughts on the trial. Dickie tries to stay tight-lipped, saying Ronnie is just a normal boy. He tells the reporter that he’s only just arrived from... (full context)
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Dickie jokingly pretends that he told the reporter on the phone that he thinks Ronnie is guilty, much to Grace’s momentary horror. He asks her how it’s been going. She... (full context)
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Dickie asks how Ronnie did as a witness. Grace says that Ronnie—“the poor little pet”—felt that two days being... (full context)
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Catherine informs Arthur that Sir Robert did a great job examining the witness who identified Ronnie as the thief. Without bullying her or frightening her, he managed to find numerous inconsistencies... (full context)
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...the Attorney-General’s conceding statement which he’s written down on a scrap of paper. It absolves Ronnie of any wrongdoing. He folds the paper up and gives it to Arthur. (full context)
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Ronnie comes in and apologizes to Sir Robert, saying he didn’t know anything was going to... (full context)
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Sir Robert tells Ronnie that they were victorious. He asks Catherine whether he will, then, see her at the... (full context)