We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves


Karen Joy Fowler

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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves Characters

Rosemary Cooke

Rosemary is the narrator and main character, and the entire novel is told through her perspective. Born in Bloomington, Indiana, she is the younger sister of Lowell. When Rosemary is one month old, her… read analysis of Rosemary Cooke

Rosemary’s Father

Rosemary’s father is a psychologist and a professor at the University of Indiana, Bloomington. (His first name is never given.) The son of Grandma Fredericka and Grandpa Joe, it is implied that he comes… read analysis of Rosemary’s Father

Rosemary’s Mother

Rosemary’s mother is also a scientist, although Rosemary does not describe her scientific work and it seems as though she may have stopped working in a formal capacity after having children. (Like Rosemary’s fatherread analysis of Rosemary’s Mother

Lowell Cooke (aka “Travers”)

Lowell is Rosemary’s older brother. Rosemary idolizes him, but he is not always kind to her, and is arguably more protective of Fern than of his biological sister. Lowell has a strong sense of… read analysis of Lowell Cooke (aka “Travers”)


Fern is Rosemary’s “sister,” a chimpanzee who the Cookes adopt from Africa. Fern’s mother was killed by poachers, and when Fern was found she was very sick with diarrhea and fleas. Fern is extremely… read analysis of Fern
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Harlow Fielding

Harlow is Rosemary’s first real friend outside her family. They meet when Rosemary witnesses Harlow having a melodramatic fight with her boyfriend, Reg, in the UC Davis cafeteria, and Rosemary and Harlow end… read analysis of Harlow Fielding

Grandma Donna

Grandma Donna is Rosemary’s mother’s mother. It is implied that Donna is of a higher class background than Rosemary’s father’s parents; Rosemary notes that unlike Grandma Fredericka, Donna is a good cook… read analysis of Grandma Donna

Ezra Metzger

Ezra is the manager of Rosemary and Todd’s apartment building in Davis. He is a rather comic character who falls in love with Harlow and lets her into Rosemary’s apartment without asking. His love… read analysis of Ezra Metzger


Dae-jung is a young boy in Rosemary’s elementary school class who has recently moved to the United States from Korea. At first he can’t speak English, which draws Rosemary to him as it reminds… read analysis of Dae-jung


Reg is Harlow’s rather hapless on/off boyfriend. He and Rosemary at first have a fairly antagonistic relationship, and Rosemary describes him as having “the brains of a bivalve.” However, after Harlow runs away with… read analysis of Reg

Dr. Sosa

Dr. Sosa is the professor of Rosemary’s Religion and Violence course. He is a popular lecturer and a religious man who rejects Rosemary’s claim that, for some people, science is a kind of religion… read analysis of Dr. Sosa
Minor Characters
Officer Arnie Haddick
Arnie Haddick is the campus police officer who arrests Rosemary and Harlow twice, first at the cafeteria and second after their reckless night of drinking and drug-taking.
Grandpa Dan
Grandpa Dan is Rosemary’s mother’s father. He is dead by the time the novel takes place.
Grandma Fredericka
Grandma Fredericka is Rosemary’s father’s mother. Rosemary does not enjoy visiting her because she finds her house tacky and dislikes her cooking.
Grandpa Joe
Grandpa Joe is Rosemary’s father’s father. Like his wife Fredericka, he spends most of his time watching TV.
Uncle Bob
Uncle Bob is Rosemary’s mother’s brother. He is married to Aunt Vivi and is the father of Peter and Janice.
Aunt Vivi
Aunt Vivi is Uncle Bob’s wife, Rosemary’s mother’s sister-in-law.
Peter is Rosemary’s cousin, the eldest child of Uncle Bob and Aunt Vivi. He is very handsome, kind, and a talented cellist, but—unlike Rosemary—achieved poor SAT scores.
Janice is Peter’s younger sister. She is unattractive, awkward, and “sullen,” but benefits from having an exceptionally kind older brother who adores her.
Mary is Rosemary’s imaginary childhood friend. Like Fern, Mary is a chimpanzee. Rosemary purposefully gives Mary unlikeable characteristics so no one will prefer her to Rosemary herself.
Todd is Rosemary’s second roommate in college. Half-Japanese, half-Irish, he is the child of a bitter divorce. He is the boyfriend of Kimmy Uchida.
Kimmy Uchida
Kimmy is Todd’s girlfriend.
Melissa is a college student who babysits Rosemary after Fern leaves. She teaches Rosemary long words from the dictionary, but also sometimes neglects her to watch TV, allowing Rosemary to sneak out of the house unnoticed with Lowell and Russell.
Russell Tupman
Russell is a friend of Lowell’s who lives in the same neighborhood as the Cooke family in Bloomington. He is a stereotypical bad boy figure, who smokes and throws a Halloween party in the Cookes’ empty old house.
Ms. Delancy
Ms. Delancy is Lowell’s counselor. She praises Lowell’s loyalty and strong sense of justice, and suggests activities for the Cooke family to do to help them recover from Fern’s departure.
Katherine “Kitch” Chalmers
Kitch is Lowell’s high school girlfriend. Raised in a Mormon family, it is implied that Kitch strayed from her conservative upbringing and lived a wild life as a teenager, although she tells Rosemary that she later returned to a more traditional path.
Larkin “Scully” Rhodes
Scully is Rosemary’s freshman roommate in college. Her real name is Larkin, but she is so obsessed with The X Files that she insists everyone calls her Scully. Although her relationship with Rosemary is not antagonistic, they fail to bond and do not stay in touch after freshman year.
Hazel is Fern’s third baby. She lives with her mother at the laboratory in South Dakota.
Todd’s Mother
Todd’s mother is a renowned civil rights lawyer who defends Ezra after he breaks into the UC Davis Primate Center. At the end of the novel, Rosemary expresses her hope that she will defend Lowell.