Rosie appears to stand apart from the others by virtue of her name and personal qualities. What exactly is her role in the family and play in Michael Cook's Jacob's Wake?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rosie in Michael Cook's Jacob's Wake stands apart from the other characters. She is cheerful, tolerant, optimistic, and kind. 

Rosie is a caring woman. When Mary suggests in the first scene that perhaps Skipper would do better in a home for the aged, Rosie disagrees:

I'd never sleep a wink worrying about'n getting his drop o' rum, knowing 'e'd have no one to tend to'n or read from his book. Having no real voices to talk to.

Rosie's optimism is seen in Act One, scene two. She lives in a household with people who cannot get along. For instance, Mary is forever at odds with her brother Winston. In truth, Mary finds a lot to complain about. Rosie, on the other hand, doesn't go looking for difficulties.


I asked, have you looked outside?


No, maid. Dis time of year I prefers not to do dat. 'Tis right depressing!

When Mary suggests that it might be nice for Rosie to stay in bed late at least one morning (for it becomes obvious that Rosie takes care not only of the infirmed Skipper, but everyone else in the house—including her sons), Rosie can't imagine doing such a thing. Rosie is the glue that keeps the family together, and she would never think of seeing to herself first.

Wayne, Rosie's son, has been almost completely raised by his doting Aunt Mary: it was her influence that motivated him to get an education, far different from the other men in the family. When Mary complains to Rosie about how nasty Alonzo and Winston were to Wayne during a card game the night before, the peace-making Rosie notes:

Dey was only having a bit o' fun wid'n, maid. Dey allus done dat.

Brad, another son, returns home having been thrown out of the parish in which he has been the preacher. Where Rosie made excuses for Alonzo and Winston's behavior the previous evening, she walks the balance of keeping the peace here by warning Alonzo to leave Brad alone:

And ye leave off tormentin'n. Dey was quite enough o' dat last night!

When Mary argues with her father by yelling up the stairs, Rosie calms her, reminding Mary that Skipper will not live much longer.

Rosie doesn't seem very bright, but it can be argued that she really doesn't miss much even though she has her hands full taking care of this lazy, dysfunctional family. She holds her own and makes the best of the life she has. And she takes care of everyone:



Yes, Brad.


Could you fetch my Bible for me. I think I left in in the front room.


...Git it yerself. Can't ye see she's run off her feet.


I'll git it the onct.

It is ironic that Alonzo complains, for he also has his mother waiting on him. Rosie lives to serve and is satisfied with her lot in life.

Rosie is able to get Skipper to take his medicine, and though his mind is often lost in the past, he appreciates Winston's wife, caring for her as he does not for the others.

Rosie provides a stark comparison between the outside world and this family: the other members of the household are related, and there is no love lost between them. However, while Rosie cares for them all, even her dedication cannot stop the coming disaster. Simply a bystander in the "Godforsaken house," Rosie is lost with the rest when judgment falls on them at the end. 

Rosie is the character that bridges the gaps between the rest of the family members, none of whom are able to function in a positive, meaningful way with the others.