This Boy’s Life

At the start of the story, Rosemary and Jack are fleeting to Utah from Florida in a desperate bid to escape her abusive, controlling lover named Roy. Roy catches up to them, though, and talks Rosemary back into a relationship. As he attempts to cement his stronghold over her, he follows her to and from work each day—often with Jack in tow—and tries to ingratiate himself to Jack by buying him gifts such as a rifle. Eventually, Rosemary decides it’s time to escape Roy once and for all, and she and Jack secretly board a bus bound for Seattle.

Roy Quotes in This Boy’s Life

The This Boy’s Life quotes below are all either spoken by Roy or refer to Roy. 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:
Storytelling and Escapism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Press edition of This Boy’s Life published in 1989.
Chapter 3 Quotes

Roy stored his ammunition in a metal box he kept hidden in the closet. As with everything else hidden in the apartment, I knew exactly where to find it. There was a layer of loose .22 rounds on the bottom of the box under shells of bigger caliber, dropped there by the handful the way men drop pennies on their dressers at night. I took some and put them in a hiding place of my own. With these I started loading up the rifle. Hammer cocked, a round in the chamber, finger resting lightly on the trigger, I drew a bead on whoever walked by—women pushing strollers, children, garbage collectors laughing and calling to each other, anyone—and as they passed under my window I sometimes had to bite my lip to keep from laughing in the ecstasy of my power over them, and at their absurd and innocent belief that they were safe.

Related Characters: Jack / Tobias (speaker), Roy
Related Symbols: The Rifle
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
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Roy Character Timeline in This Boy’s Life

The timeline below shows where the character Roy appears in This Boy’s Life. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
Abuse Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
...He isn’t worried that his mother will find out—she has recently taken up again with Roy, the man she’d left Florida to get away from. (full context)
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
Abuse Theme Icon
Each night, Jack goes home to his mother—and to Roy. Roy has followed them to Utah, and though he’s rented a room across town, he... (full context)
Abuse Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Many afternoons, Roy, with Jack in the car, drives to the building where Rosemary works, waits for her... (full context)
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
Abuse Theme Icon
Back at the house, Rosemary is cooking and listening to Christmas music. Roy interrogates her about her day, and when he accuses her of trying to “fool” him,... (full context)
Chapter 3
Abuse Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Just after Easter, Roy gives Jack a present: a Winchester .22 rifle. Roy had carried it as a boy,... (full context)
Storytelling and Escapism Theme Icon
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
...then puts it together and marches around the apartment with it, then dons one of Roy’s old army coats and poses in the mirror with the gun. The coat makes him... (full context)
Abuse Theme Icon
Jack loads the gun with ammo—he knows where Roy’s hiding place is—and continues playing sniper at the front window. He is in “ecstasy” over... (full context)
Chapter 4
Abuse Theme Icon
One afternoon, Roy and Jack are home alone in the apartment. Roy asks Jack what he thinks about... (full context)
Storytelling and Escapism Theme Icon
Abuse Theme Icon
...room; he asks if they’re going somewhere, and she replies that they’re going to Seattle—without Roy. Jack retrieves his rifle; Rosemary says it can’t come with them, but Jack insists, and... (full context)