Waiting

by

Cate Kennedy

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Pete is the narrator’s husband; he’s a farmer who raises cattle and various crops in rural Australia. Though the narrator describes Pete as “undemonstrative” and suggests that he’s a quiet, pragmatic, and stoic man, he’s nevertheless empathetic and loving. After one of the narrator’s miscarriages, for instance, he crawls into the hospital bed beside her, staying the night instead of leaving when visiting hours end. The narrator recognizes Pete’s grief over her lost pregnancies and she can tell that he desperately wants to be a parent. This contributes to her decision not to tell him about this most recent pregnancy—she wants to spare him more grief. At the same time as Pete struggles to process the miscarriages, he’s also struggling to make ends meet and be successful as a farmer. Earlier in the year he planted a wheat crop, and while he hoped for favorable weather, the wheat hasn’t taken off. As the narrator waits for her ultrasound, she believes that Pete is at home, deciding that it’s time to give up on the wheat. The narrator admires Pete’s pragmatism in the face of failure and disappointment, the way he’s always willing to pick up the pieces and do whatever needs to be done next.

Pete Quotes in Waiting

The Waiting quotes below are all either spoken by Pete or refer to Pete. 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:
Grief and Loneliness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribe edition of Waiting published in 2012.
Waiting Quotes

It’s funny, in the pamphlets they hand you they talk about giving yourself permission to grieve and taking time for yourself, but they never talk much about your partner. I’m not pretending I know what it’s like for him, but I look at his face and I can see that he’s worn down as it is, almost to the point of slippage, like a stripped screw.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Pete
Page Number: 200-01
Explanation and Analysis:

I’ve watched him out there some mornings, stooping down, looking at the stalks, wondering where the point of non-recovery is, where it comes and what you do once you’ve decided. So this time I spared him. Kept the news of those two blue lines on the test to myself. I look at the calendar and think of him out there on the tractor sowing that wheat, ten weeks ago to the day.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Pete
Related Symbols: Wheat
Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:

Understand, I’m not a martyr.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Pete
Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:

My husband is an undemonstrative man and that gesture, as he fitted his warm arms and legs around me in the narrow bed, made me see how much he understood. I woke up in the night and felt his thumb, as he slept, absently rubbing the skin on my own arm. Oh, it wears us thin, marriage. It knocks the edges off us.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Pete
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

He’s making the decision to open the gate into the pasture with its desiccated, knee-high wheat. Can’t stand its hopeful greenness struggling in that parched ground, knowing what three more days of this heat are going to do.

Let it go. Let the cows eat it.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Pete
Related Symbols: Wheat
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:

[...] oh, Pete, I know what you need and I can’t give it to you; I can see it in the way you scratch the dog’s tilting head just where he loves it, the thwarted tenderness of that gesture so familiar to me that I feel the heavy dish of water in my chest teeter and almost overbalance, and I ache with holding it steady.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Pete
Related Symbols: Water
Page Number: 203-04
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Waiting LitChart as a printable PDF.
Waiting PDF

Pete Character Timeline in Waiting

The timeline below shows where the character Pete appears in Waiting. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Waiting
Grief and Loneliness Theme Icon
Nature, Chaos, and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Love, Care, and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Hardship Theme Icon
...coming. Last Tuesday morning, when she hit 10 weeks, she stood in the kitchen while Pete fed the cattle, rubbing at a spot on the counter and trying to account for... (full context)
Grief and Loneliness Theme Icon
Love, Care, and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Hardship Theme Icon
...a request form for the ultrasound without needing an appointment. And today, the narrator told Pete that she was going shopping; he has enough to worry about right now. The pamphlets... (full context)
Grief and Loneliness Theme Icon
Nature, Chaos, and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Love, Care, and Suffering Theme Icon
Lately, the narrator can see that Pete is thinking about giving up on his wheat crop and letting the cows eat it,... (full context)
Grief and Loneliness Theme Icon
Nature, Chaos, and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Hardship Theme Icon
The narrator clarifies that she’s not a martyr. When she and Pete married, her mother passed down her grandmother’s wedding ring. The back of the ring is... (full context)
Nature, Chaos, and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Last March, the narrator made it to 14 weeks. Pete had just started to look more relaxed when one day, while doing laundry, she felt... (full context)
Grief and Loneliness Theme Icon
Love, Care, and Suffering Theme Icon
In the hospital afterwards, when they announced the end of visiting hours, Pete hesitated. The narrator closed her eyes, expecting him to say something. Instead, Pete undressed and... (full context)
Grief and Loneliness Theme Icon
Love, Care, and Suffering Theme Icon
That night, the narrator woke up to Pete rubbing her arm as he slept. Marriage, the narrator reflects, “wears us thin” and “knocks... (full context)
Grief and Loneliness Theme Icon
Nature, Chaos, and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Love, Care, and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Hardship Theme Icon
The narrator knows that, back home, Pete is deciding to open the gate for the cows to eat the wheat. He can’t... (full context)
Grief and Loneliness Theme Icon
Nature, Chaos, and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Love, Care, and Suffering Theme Icon
The narrator knows what Pete needs—and she knows she can’t give it to him. She can see it in the... (full context)