Watchmen

Watchmen

by

Alan Moore

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Walter Kovacs (Rorschach) / The Doomsayer Character Analysis

Walter Kovacs, also known as Rorschach, is a costumed vigilante and one of the main characters in the story. Rorschach wears a white mask with shifting black shapes on it, resembling moving Rorschach blot tests. Unlike the the other characters, who most often go by their given names, Rorschach holds his vigilante identity as his main identity and thinks of Walter Kovacs as his costume. He and other people refer to him exclusively as Rorschach, and he is rarely seen without his mask and costume, in part because he endured a horrifically abusive childhood and sees his vigilante identity as a way to feel safe and powerful in a chaotic, painful world. During the day, he pretends to be a doomsayer, carrying a sign that says, “The End is Nigh.” Rorschach holds a strict moralistic view of ethics and believes that the world divides easily into good people and bad people. He loathes crime and vice, especially as it pervades the lower class, yet he himself often tortures or kills people for information. When Rorschach finds out that Edward Blake was murdered, he hunts doggedly for his killer. This eventually leads Rorschach to discover Adrian Veidt’s plan to avert World War III by killing half the population of New York City. Although the other surviving heroes agree that they must go along with Veidt’s plan and compromise their morals to prevent nuclear war, Rorschach refuses to compromise “even in the face of Armageddon.” He defies the other Watchmen and tries to return to America to tell everyone what Veidt did, even though the truth would shatter the newly established world peace. To stop him, Dr. Manhattan kills Rorschach. Rorschach accepts his death and pulls his mask off just before he dies, signifying that he chooses to accept his own limitations and die as Walter Kovacs, rather than as Rorschach.

Walter Kovacs (Rorschach) / The Doomsayer Quotes in Watchmen

The Watchmen quotes below are all either spoken by Walter Kovacs (Rorschach) / The Doomsayer or refer to Walter Kovacs (Rorschach) / The Doomsayer . 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:
Heroes, Villains, and Vigilantes Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the DC Comics edition of Watchmen published in 1986.
Chapter 1: At Midnight, All the Agents… Quotes

The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “save us!” …and I'll look down and whisper “No.”

Related Characters: Walter Kovacs (Rorschach) / The Doomsayer (speaker)
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

This city is dying of rabies. Is the best I can do to wipe random flecks of foam from its lips? Never despair. Never surrender. I leave the human cockroaches to discuss their heroin and child pornography. I have business elsewhere with a better class of person.

Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

Meeting with Veidt left a bad taste in my mouth. He is pampered and decadent, betraying even his own shallow, liberal affectations. Possibly homosexual? Must remember to investigate further.

Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

Because there is good and there is evil, and evil must be punished. Even in the face of Armageddon I shall not compromise on this. But there are so many deserving of retribution… and there is so little time.

Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5: Fearful Symmetry Quotes

My things were where I’d left them, waiting for me. Putting them on, I abandoned my disguise and became myself, free from fear or weakness or lust. My coat, my shoes, my spotless gloves. My face.

Related Symbols: Rorschach’s Mask
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6: The Abyss Gazes Also Quotes

Black and white. Moving. Changing shape… But not mixing. No gray. Very, very beautiful.

Related Symbols: Rorschach’s Mask
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

[The Comedian] understood man’s capacity for horrors and never quit. Saw the world’s black underbelly and never surrendered. Once a man has seen, he can never turn his back on it. Never pretend it doesn’t exist. No matter who orders him to look the other way. We do not do this thing because it is permitted. We do it because we are compelled.

Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

Shock of impact ran along my arm. Jet of warmth spattered on chest, like hot faucet. It was Kovacs who said “mother” then, muffled under latex. It was Kovacs who closed his eyes. It was Rorschach who opened them again.

Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It’s us. Only us.

Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7: A Brother to Dragons Quotes

It’s this war, the feeling that it’s unavoidable. It makes me feel so powerless. So impotent.

Page Number: 231
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11: Look on My Works, Ye Mighty… Quotes

Dreiberg: …And anyway, this is Adrian for God’s sake. We know him. He never killed anybody, ever. Why would he want to destroy the world?

Kovacs: Insanity, perhaps?

Dreiberg: Ha. Well that’s a tricky one… I mean, who’s qualified to judge someone like that? This is the world’s smartest man we’re talking about here, so how can you tell? How can anyone tell if he’s gone crazy?

Page Number: 349
Explanation and Analysis:

Teleported to New York, my creature’s death would trigger mechanisms within its massive brain, cloned from a human sensitive… the resultant psychic shockwave killing half the city.

Page Number: 374
Explanation and Analysis:

What does fighting crime mean, exactly? Does it mean upholding the law when a woman shoplifts to feed her children, or does it mean struggling to uncover the ones who, quite legally, have brought about her poverty?

Page Number: 389
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Watchmen LitChart as a printable PDF.
Watchmen PDF

Walter Kovacs (Rorschach) / The Doomsayer Character Timeline in Watchmen

The timeline below shows where the character Walter Kovacs (Rorschach) / The Doomsayer appears in Watchmen. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: At Midnight, All the Agents…
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Moralist vs. Utilitarian Ethics Theme Icon
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“Rorschach’s journal. October 12th, 1985.” While a man hoses a large pool of blood off of... (full context)
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...involved. One of them remarks that the Keene Act of 1977 outlawed most vigilantes, but Rorschach is still out in the streets, acting on his own, and he’s crazy. As the... (full context)
Heroes, Villains, and Vigilantes Theme Icon
Moralist vs. Utilitarian Ethics Theme Icon
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...empty, a man wearing a trench coat, fedora, and white mask with black shapeless blots appears—Rorschach. He shoots a grappling hook from the street up into Blake’s shattered window and climbs... (full context)
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...his apartment, however, he sees a light on in the kitchen. Daniel enters and finds Rorschach in his kitchen, eating from a can of beans. Rorschach doesn’t take his mask off... (full context)
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Daniel seems shocked and nervous to find Rorschach there. Rorschach tosses him Blake’s blood-smeared smiley-face badge and tells him it belonged to the... (full context)
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Rorschach thinks it’s more likely that someone is killing “costumed heroes.” He mentions that Hollis said... (full context)
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“Rorschach’s journal. October 13th, 1985.” He sleeps through the day and sets off at night, reflecting... (full context)
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Rorschach speaks with Adrian Veidt in Veidt’s penthouse apartment. Veidt is surprised to hear of the... (full context)
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“Rorschach’s journal. October 13th, 1985. 8:30 p.m.” Rorschach feels disgusted after meeting with Veidt and thinks... (full context)
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Rorschach finds Laurie Juspeczyk and Dr. Manhattan in a large military facility. Laurie is a normal... (full context)
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Back in the military station, the confrontation with Rorschach still bothers Laurie—she thinks Rorschach is “sick inside his mind.” Jon is doing something with... (full context)
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“Rorschach’s journal. October 13th, 1985. 11:30 p.m.” Rorschach walks the New York City streets, reflecting on... (full context)
Chapter 2: Absent Friends
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Rorschach follows an old man home from the funeral and attacks him in his home, pinning... (full context)
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“Rorschach’s journal. October 16th, 1985.” Rorschach sneers at pornographic billboards and prostitutes as he stalks the... (full context)
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Rorschach remembers a joke where a man sees his doctor and tells him he’s depressed and... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Judge of All the Earth
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...about how news vendors see every front page—they’re the best-informed people in the world. The doomsayer with the sign declaring, “The end is nigh” asks the news vendor if he’s saved... (full context)
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On the street corner, the news vendor talks to the doomsayer about Dr. Manhattan’s disappearance. They suspect the Communists are somehow to blame. In the pirate... (full context)
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...her financially any longer. The man thinks they’re all in “big trouble.” In Daniel’s house, Rorschach breaks in to tell Daniel that Dr. Manhattan’s gone too, and all the masked heroes... (full context)
Chapter 4: Watchmaker
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...vigilantes except for Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian, since they work directly for the government. Rorschach refuses to quit, but everyone else retires. In 1981, Jon and Laurie move into their... (full context)
Chapter 5: Fearful Symmetry
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...hears someone in his house downstairs. He grabs a pistol and creeps down the stairs. Rorschach appears and disarms him, rebuking him for having an unlicensed handgun. Rorschach says that it’s... (full context)
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Rorschach leaves, deciding that Moloch is only a pawn in someone else’s plan to discredit Dr.... (full context)
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“Rorschach’s journal. October 21st, 1985.” Rorschach wakes to shouting outside. He folds his mask and slips... (full context)
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“Rorschach’s journal. October 21st, 1985.” Veidt’s attempted murder confirms Rorschach’s suspicions about a “mask-killer” on the... (full context)
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At the appointed time, Rorschach goes back to Moloch’s house to visit him. He finds Moloch sitting upright in a... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Abyss Gazes Also
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...Dr. Malcolm Long. October 25th, 1985”: Dr. Long, a psychiatrist, holds his first interview with Walter Kovacs, also known as Rorschach. Kovacs is difficult to work with, but this case could... (full context)
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Long states that Kovacs was born in 1940 to Sylvia Glick. His father is unknown. Everyone in the prison,... (full context)
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On Kovacs’s way back to his cell, all the other inmates shout that they’ll kill him soon.... (full context)
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Dr. Long writes notes in his study, late at night. After Walter attacked the boys, the government removed him from his mother and placed him in state... (full context)
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The next day, Dr. Long interviews Kovacs again. He calls him “Walter” and asks him to talk about Rorschach. Kovacs tells Long... (full context)
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Two years pass. One day, Kovacs reads in the newspaper that Kitty Genovese was raped, tortured, and murdered right in front... (full context)
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Later, the deputy warden calls Long to tell him that Kovacs attacked an inmate in the cafeteria. The inmate was about to stab Kovacs, so Kovacs... (full context)
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In the next meeting, Kovacs continues his story. In the beginning, he states he was just Kovacs in a costume,... (full context)
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“From the notes of Dr. Malcolm Long. October 27th, 1985”: Kovacs says he felt like he had to become Rorschach, but he doesn’t identify what it... (full context)
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As Malcolm Long’s notes continue the next day, Kovacs reveals everything to Long. Long gives Kovacs the blot test from their first interview. This... (full context)
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Kovacs enters the dress shop. He finds a piece of fabric in the furnace that looks... (full context)
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When the kidnapper returns, Rorschach ambushes him and handcuffs him to the furnace. The man claims he’s innocent, but also... (full context)
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...are visiting for dinner. During dinner, one of the friends asks about Long’s work with Rorschach, if he’s learned about any “kinky” or exciting crimes. Long tells him flatly about the... (full context)
A New York City Police Department report summarizes Rorschach’s arrest and the apparent murder of Edgar Jacobi, also known as Moloch. It states that... (full context)
Chapter 7: A Brother to Dragons
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...and lights Daniel’s basement on fire. Daniel hears her screaming from upstairs and briefly recalls Rorschach’s warnings about a “mask-killer.” He sprints down to the basement, realizes Laurie is okay, and... (full context)
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...are just “flash and thunder” and don’t really change the world. For some people, like Rorschach, the costumes made them insane. (full context)
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...They go upstairs to have coffee and watch the news. Dan mentions that he thinks Rorschach’s alleged murder of Moloch seems odd, since one bullet to the head is not as... (full context)
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On the news, the anchor talks about Rorschach’s arrest—his landlady claims that he often sexually propositioned her—and the Soviet incursion into Pakistan. Laurie... (full context)
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...However, he thinks they have “an obligation to [their] fraternity.” He thinks they should break Rorschach out of jail. (full context)
Chapter 8: Old Ghosts
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...the world and the oncoming Russian invasion and thinks about how strange it is that Rorschach used to be one of his regular customers. In the pirate comic, the survivor floats... (full context)
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In Dan’s basement, Laurie frets about actually breaking Rorschach out of jail; she thinks it’s an insane idea. Dan makes preparations and insists that... (full context)
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In prison, a short man named Big Figure and two goons visit Rorschach’s cell. They want to kill him but can’t reach him, since he’s locked inside. Big... (full context)
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At Dan’s house, one of the detectives who arrested Rorschach visits while Laurie is taking a shower. He introduces himself as Steven Fine and chats... (full context)
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...corner, the news vendor chats with a crowd of men. A newspaper headline announces that Rorschach caused a prison riot that left 5 people dead. In the pirate comic, the survivor... (full context)
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On Halloween night, Big Figure returns with more inmates to cut through Rorschach’s cell bars and kill him. Rorschach antagonizes the men outside his cell until one of... (full context)
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...Dan jump out of the airship and go wandering through the prison. Dan feels like Rorschach has been trying to reach out to him lately, almost like he wants to be... (full context)
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Laurie, Daniel, and Rorschach return to Daniel’s house. Laurie seems rattled. She goes into the living room and is... (full context)
Chapter 10: Two Riders Were Approaching
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After hiding underwater in the airship, Daniel (dressed as Nite Owl) and Rorschach decide what to do next, beginning with obtaining Rorschach’s spare costume. Rorschach says they need... (full context)
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Rorschach and Daniel spend the day underwater in the airship, waiting for dark. Daniel runs computer... (full context)
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Rorschach and Daniel visit Happy Harry’s bar and find a man, Roy Chess, who delivered the... (full context)
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Rorschach and Daniel visit Pyramid Delivery Company’s office, since the company seems tied to the attempt... (full context)
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“Rorschach’s journal. November 1st, 1985.” Rorschach and Daniel are going to try to track down Veidt... (full context)
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...past the “sentry,” he rides furiously toward his home, toward “vengeance.” Elsewhere, a postman delivers Rorschach’s journal to the New Frontiersman office, but Seymour just puts it in the “crank file.” (full context)
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Rorschach and Daniel fly the airship to Antarctica, where Veidt’s fortress lies. They try to come... (full context)
Chapter 11: Look on My Works, Ye Mighty…
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...fortress, Adrian Veidt voice-records a complex observation about changing perceptions and technological development. He watches Rorschach and Daniel ride toward him on his wall of screens. Daniel wonders why someone like... (full context)
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Rorschach and Daniel find the entrance to Veidt’s vivarium and use it to enter his fortress.... (full context)
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While fending off Rorschach, Veidt explains that as a hero, he quickly realized that not all injustice is perpetrated... (full context)
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With Jon and the Comedian neutralized, Veidt needed Rorschach taken care of as well to stop him from meddling. He frames Rorschach, then hires... (full context)
Chapter 12: A Stronger Loving World
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...his plan. Veidt insists that he did and jokes that he can even catch bullets. Rorschach believes Veidt and asks him to send Bubastis away so they can fight to the... (full context)
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...tachyons to disrupt Jon’s ability to see the future. He walks into Veidt’s fortress, passing Rorschach, but feels “drugged” and confused by the tachyon swirl. Veidt hides, but Jon sees Bubastis... (full context)
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...humanity. This horrifies Jon, Laurie, and Daniel, but they accept that Veidt is right. However, Rorschach refuses to compromise, “even in the face of Armageddon.” Rorschach leaves, intent on revealing Veidt’s... (full context)
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Jon confronts Rorschach as he walks through the snow, back to the airship to return to America. Jon... (full context)
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...“crank file.” Seymour’s hand hovers over a pile of articles and pamphlets, amongst which is Rorschach’s journal. (full context)