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Transcript of Robert Ross
After the death of Robert's older sister Rowena. Rowena's death is one of the reasons for Robert enlisting in the army. Robert was Rowena's guardian and when she died he blamed himself because he was supposed to watch her. Rowena essentially represented good in Roberts life and when she died, he in a sense gave up.
Robert is a compassionate man. You could say that his sister Rowena was the source of that compassion because his Mother had an extreme drinking problem and his father was not really around all that much.
After Rowena's passing Robert slowly but surely started to change from his secured world of naivety to a world of darkness. Robert Ross: The Rape "He knelt beside the bed and ripped at the mattress...
He tore the ticking off the pillows and the air filled up with feathers.
Gun. Gun. He wanted his gun." (5.5.194)
"'Come in,' said Robert. 'I can't stay,' said Poole...Robert said: 'Stay for a moment. Please.'" (5.5.195)
"'I'm glad you brought the kit bag. I wanted it.' 'Yes' They stood there. Robert wished with all his heart that men could embrace. But he knew now they couldn't. Mustn't." (5.5.195)
"Everything [in the kit bag] was there—including the picture of Rowena.
Robert burned it in the middle of the floor.
This was not an act of anger—but an act of charity." (5.5.195)
While Robert was in the war he stayed at the old mental institution Desolé. Robert encountered a life and self altering situation of forced violation. This event in the story is significant because it showed the reader a little bit of a better idea of what people when through and it showed how Roberts character changed in the way he felt about human beings. Burning Rowena's picture was described as "an act of charity" as Robert felt that such an innocent thing should not exist in such a corrupt world. This event symbolizes Robert's absolute lose of faith in humanity and goodness. This event effects Roberts character because it is one of the determining reasons for (in a sense) Roberts compassion for humans and human life fading. This is also the first time that Robert has felt insecure about himself and that is shown when he tries to keep Poole to stay. Also Robert looses the last connection to his innocence and his faith in humanity’s virtuousness. Robert Ross: Harris' Death "But love—yes. Robert, though he never said so, loved Harris. It was clear in the way he dealt with his death and in the way he spoke of him afterward..." (2.11.114)
Harris was one of Robert's friends that he met in the war. Robert and Harris grew to become very close friends. When Harris got sick and ended up in the hospital Robert came to see him everyday and he would stay there for hours. The experience of Robert's friend Harris dying is Robert's first expirence of the death of a friend. This shows the compassion that Robert still feels for people. Robert being there next to Harris everyday and sending letters to his father for money for a proper burial shows that he still has hope in man kind even in the presence of war. This still shows some of his naivety in a sense.
"Their curious friendship ended in ashes" (pg.70)
Robert after Harris died was cremated and he released Harris' ashes into the river because Harris talked about swimming in the ocean but the only close body of water was the river. Robert Ross: The Releasing of the Horses "The barns were a heap of burning rubble. So was the Signals Office...All the horses and mules were either dead or dying...[Robert] paused for the barest moment looking at the whole scene laid out before him and his anger rose to such a pitch that he feared he was going to go over into madness...he thought: 'If an animal had done this—we would call it mad and shoot it,' and at that precise moment Captain Leather rose to his knees and began to struggle to his feet. Robert shot him between the eyes." (5.8.203)
In the scene where Robert Ross releases the horses, and disobeys orders shows that he is starting to put animals before mankind, because the animals are innocent while mankind is destructive and murderous. When he kills Captain Leather, he does so because he feels that Leather is destructive and does not care, however when he shoots the horses it is out of sympathy and to end their suffering. It shows that Robert is a complex character, but that he has changed from the beginning of the story when he was naive and hopeful for finding a purpose for his life. In the beginning the main character Robert Ross is a very sensitive, compassionate and genuine. The first quote shows how Robert is able to think about others, and shows his compassion for his sister. The way that he is able to think about the fact that Rowena will never run, and that he learned for her, shows his love for her. On the other hand, the second quote shows that Robert is still Naive, and does not fully comprehend what is expected from him. "'Then why should I fight him?' Robert had asked. 'Because because he loves me,' she said. She spoke as if Robert were stupid. It all made perfect sense to Heather, but Robert thought it was idiotic and said so." (4.14) Robert Ross: The Bombing The quote where Robert Ross is digging for Poole after the first round of shellings furthers characterizes Robert as being compassionate towards other human beings and people he feels responsible for. It also shows that despite the horrors of war, and the shell-shock that he was experiencing he still cared for those that were younger, and who he perceived to be weaker, and felt the need to protect him. Crawling through the trenches filled with dead bodies, Robert Ross' character experiences the horrors of war for the first time, and is able to see the true destruction that humanity is capable of. This scene changes his character, as he is starting to become more cold and distant, and begins to separate his emotions from what is happening around him. When Robert Ross saves the rat that is stuck in one of the holes, it shows that in the midst of all the death there was still some hope, and still life. Him saving the rat shows his compassion towards the animals, and his wonder and amazement at the simple things, such as life. Robert Ross: Saving the Men Robert Ross: Perception "[Mrs. Ross] was adamant. The rabbits had to die—and Robert had to do it...'Because he loved her'" (1.9.18-19)
Mrs. Ross, due to her own experiences with unexpected sudden deaths within her family members, chooses to distance herself from her loved ones in attempting to avoid further heartbreak. She views Robert to be weak in that sense due to his unbreakable bond with Rowena. She feels that Robert will learn that "no one belongs to anyone" in life through the killing of Rowena's rabbits, who symbolized Rowena herself, and fully realize how truly imminent death is.
"'You bruised so easily. Your elbows and your knees swelled up...' She laughed. 'And your arms and your thighs and your shins were simply black with bruises...Just like a savage painted for the wars. How alarmed we always were—every time you fell...'...'Funny,' she said, 'how most people fall down and nothing happens. Some people bruise like apples. But most people—nothing.'" (1.10.21-22)
Mrs. Ross' emphasis on Robert's tendency to bruise very easily during her somewhat poignant reminiscing of his childhood, coupled with her constant laughter throughout the story, imply that she finds him to be physically weak and incapable of enduring extreme physical labour that is expected of a soldier; thus, she had already concluded that Robert will die in war due to his considerable disadvantage. Her loss of hope in maintaining Ross' life becomes evident when she finally confesses that "birth [she] can give [him]—but life [she] cannot".
"'You were such a serious child. Everything was done with great concentration...You must've come a long, long way...I can hear the sound of the blades as you scraped them over the bricks...Still you persevered—and later you were captain of the Team'" (1.10.22-23)
Mrs. Ross, though she finds Robert mentally and physically vulnerable to the adversities that he will approach, still perceives him as hardworking, determined, and incredibly diligent. This can be noted as the only positive perception Mrs. Ross has openly depicted towards her son. "When the mines went up the earth swayed. Forward. Back. Forward. Half-back. Then there was a sort of glottal stop- halfway to nowhere." "Robert suddenly stood up. Poole." "All they got for their frantic digging was clay beneath their fingernails." "It was futile. still - they didn't stop for a second." "In another hole there was a rat that was alive but trapped because of the water logged conditions of the earth that kept collapsing every time it tried to ascend the walls." "It squealed as he lifted it over the edge and set it free. Robert wondered afterwards if setting the rat free had been a favor- but in the moment that he did it he was thinking: here is someone still alive. And the word alive was amazing." (pg. 114, chp. 1 part 3) Mrs. Ross Robert Ross: Perception Lady Juliet d'Orsey "I liked [Robert] at once. His jaw is absolutely square and he has the nicest hair that won't lie down" (4.164)
Upon lady Juliet's first encounter with Robert at 12 years old, she instantly perceives Robert to be very good looking, and becomes intrigued enough by his presence to strike a friendly conversation with him, that lead to her volunteering to lead Robert into Taffler's room.
"It was now, in this period, that I heard the story of Robert's meeting with Taffler on the prairie...Also the story of Harris' death and what took place at Greenwich. This is when I fell in love with Robert myself...I was only twelve years old. Still, it was love nonetheless and it hurt me greatly to see him so much with Barbara" (4.174)
Juliet first realized her romantic feelings towards Robert when she heard of the many stories where Robert showed a great deal of heroism, perseverance, and courage under the war's horrid conditions; thus, she had begun to perceive Robert as not only a handsome man, but a fearless one as well. Juliet's growing feelings for Robert made her very envious of Barbara's relations with him.
"Robert I discovered was a very private man. His temper, you know, was terrible...He had a great deal of violence inside and sometimes it emerged this way with a gesture and other times it showed in his expression when you found him sitting alone on the terrace or staring out of a window" (4.174)
As Juliet recollects instances where she had seen Robert commit violent acts, such as "firing his gun in the woods at a young tree" and destroying it absolutely, and throwing things down with such violence that they would shatter to pieces, she begins perceiving Robert as very bad-tempered and naturally violent; however, her love for him proves unfaltering as she is seen not viewing him as a monstrous person, but attempting to accept this quality about him.
"You must want to know if Robert's affair with my sister had a physical aspect. Yes it did—there being an instance of it it that I knew at first hand...Many times, I have wanted to destroy this portion of my diaries but I always remind myself it is a part of someone's life: someone I loved and respected" (4.175)
In spite of Lady Juliet's palpable feelings for Robert and her growing jealousy of Barbara's position, she still chose to keep the portion of her diary where she sees them, at twelve years old, engaging in sexual acts. She explains that she had kept this sorrowful diary entry as a sign of respect to Robert, as she perceives it "a part of [Robert's] life" and that every memory of him, regardless of how it appeared to Juliet at the time, should be treasured and contained, as she wholeheartedly viewed him as a someone she direly "loved and respected". Robert Ross: Perception Marian Turner "...I can't remark about [Robert's] face—but my impression was of someone extremely well made who cared about his body...My opinion was—he was a hero...he did the thing that no one else would even dare to think of doing...It was the war that was crazy. Not Robert Ross or what he did." (1.3.9-10)
"Robert Ross was no Hitler. That was his problem." (1.3.11)
Based on both quotations, Marian Turner depicts Ross as a very brave, innocent man who lost to his own acts of benevolence. She perceives him as a hero who was misunderstood due to his acts of kindness deemed very unusual to act upon during times of war. She perceives Robert not as a criminal, but only as only a victim of the war. In saying that "Robert was no Hitler. That was his problem", Marian views Robert as a man whose pure intentions ended up driving him to his own demise; had Robert possessed a more menacing, selfish personality, he would have been better suited for war and less prone to failure, and, eventually, death.
"In such dangerous things as war the errors which proceed from a spirit of benevolence are the worst." —von Clausewitz Society "Mention Robert Ross—they look away. 'He's dead,' they tell you...'Tell me about the horses,' you ask. Sometimes, they weep at this. other times they say: 'that bastard!' Then the nurses nod at you, much as to say—you see? It's best to go away and find your information somewhere else." (1.1.3)
The ones who were alive during the WWI and knew of Robert's deed proved to have very mixed views on Ross' character. Some may feel sorrow for Robert's and the horses' death; however, some still feel extreme disdain for Robert, agreeing that he should have never went on a mindless chase with 130 horses and killing two officials in the process. Some perceive Robert and his act heroic, while some believe it was reckless and, simply, an act of absolute madness. "Two or three corpses that had lain nearby against the sides of the crater, slid down after them and sank like stones...Robert found he was saving a man who was already dead. he pushed the corpse back into the water..." (3.138)
"Slithering over the crater's rim—a pale blue fog appeared...It tumbled over the edges and began to spread out over their heads...Jesus. Gas." (3.137)
"'All right,' he said, 'you sons-of-bitches do exactly what I say.' One of the men began to run. Robert fired. The man fell down...Robert having missed him on purpose...'If you want to live you have about twenty seconds. Get out your handkerchiefs.' 'We got no handkerchiefs,' said Bates. 'THEN TEAR THE TAILS OFF OFF YOUR GOD DAMNED SHIRTS!'" (3.139)
"The man with the broken legs was lying by the water's edge. He was already the color of death...Robert threw the gas mask at Bates. 'Put that over his face..." (3.139)
"'These [handkerchiefs] won't save on us. Not if it's chlorine.' 'Piss on them,' said Robert. 'Unh?' 'PISS ON THEM!!!'....'Damn you! Damn you! Give it to me!' and he ripped the shirt tail away from the man and urinated on it himself" (3.139-140)
"Crystals forming in the air, Ammonium-chloride—a harmless dusty powder powder blown off the back of someone's hand...The ammonia in their urine would turn the chlorine into harmless crystals that could not be breathed" (3.140-141)
In part 3, Robert experiences the brutality of the wars as he was forced to face countless lifeless bodies sinking in the crater "like stones" and the chlorine gas attack by the German army; he is witnessing corpses everywhere he looks, and finds himself confusing the alive from the dead as he tries to come to the refuge of a dead man. Robert's life is, once again, put into jeopardy as he and seven other men are surrounded by chlorine gas and mud. Instead of losing every bit of sense and fall into a state of helpless panic, Robert experiences a vital character change as he made himself responsible for all the other men's lives (gravely injured or not) and promptly bark instructions and enforcing them upon the men in order to save their lives. In a time where he would have easily fallen a victim to his own mental state and timid persona, Robert decided to become very assertive upon the men (depicted by his incessant cursing and screaming) in order to carry out his responsibility of saving the men's lives. Due to Robert's strong mental state, imposing of orders and refusing to accept any excuses from the other men, he was successful in saving his life and everyone else' (aside from those who died of shock or suffocation following the gas attack)