DOCTORATE THESIS ON WHY ROSE AND JOHN IS PLAUSIBLE
In Defense of John and Rose [11-19-2010, 06:39 PM]
For consideration, what follows is an argument in favor of John and Rose as a couple and an explanation from which this argument flows. This is not to suggest that my like of the couple derives from this analysis or that there was a mechanical process involved in my personal like of John and Rose together. Instead, this analysis provides retrospective rational that is both brandished primarily as a justification after the fact as well as a seed by which the original concept of John and Rose together bloomed in my mind. Any page reference will have its number provided at the end of the paragraph or sentence which it involves. This number will act as a link to the page in question.
To start with, I’ll describe elements of the relationship John and Rose have in the comic. Afterward, I’ll follow with a case-study of a moment of prolonged interaction between John and Rose as a way of examining the aforementioned analysis of their relationship and how it could be interpreted as forming the basis of a future romantic relationship. Concluding remarks will focus on outside sources that further act as nodules which Andrew could use as retroactive foreshadowing, should he choose to develop John and Rose as a couple.
While there are many nuances to the relationship John and Rose share, I will examine those elements which I believe could serve as a foundation for the development of a romantic relationship later. Focus will first be spent on the individual nature of John and Rose with a focus on Rose’s sense of humor. This will lead into an examination of the pranks and jokes John and Rose play on one another and share. From here, I’ll look at the ways in which John and Rose care for one another. Another element to examine is the ways in which John and Rose encourage one another to be better individuals. Most of the aforementioned elements can be explained just as much as friendship as a romantic relationship. For this reason, the concluding examination of the relationship John and Rose share will focus on ways in which John and Rose find the other one ‘weird’ or feel ‘weird’ about one another.
To begin, important in understanding the dynamic shared between John and Rose is an understanding of what makes John and Rose who they are as individuals. Primarily, I wish to focus on Rose and her sense of humor as I feel this is something that is under appreciated. While John is certainly understood as relates his taste in poor movies, his prankster nature, and his lack of self confidence; I wish to bring attention instead to his love of magic. John is described as an “amateur magician” (1904). While this is different in leaps and bounds than the sort of magic Rose likes, I still think it is a nodule of shared interest between the two. Rose is widely understood as relates her love of creative writing, her secretive nature, and her issues with her mother. However, she also has a silly sense of humor. While faced with important tasks such as her “campaign against [her] mother” or facilitating her “escape” from doom, Rose finds its “hard to resist” the urge to use a W-magnet to create a fake mustache (2270). Rose again gives in to silly temptation and a “little messing around” when presented with a young girl’s room containing a scarf (2806). She imagines riding Maplehoof while wearing the scarf as if Kamina rider. As such, it is important to consider Rose’s sense of humor when examining her character. John’s love of amateur magic and Rose’s sense of humor both form part of a basis of understanding their interactions with one another.
An element derived from the sense of humor of both John and Rose is their tendency to pull pranks or tell jokes to one another. In the first conversation we see between John and Rose, John pulls a prank on Rose. Rose asks John if he is wearing “one of [his] disguises” while typing to her. John denies the accusation as “so stupid” but immediately admits he was wearing a disguise the “whole time” culminating in John laughing at his deception with “gotcha! hehehehe” (1963). Clearly John feels comfortable playing pranks, however shitty, on Rose. More importantly, Rose accuses John of wearing “something ridiculous” without any prompt. Rose has dealt with John wearing disguises before and knows John well enough to accuse him of wearing one. As such, John and Rose have been joking with one another long before this conversation. Furthermore, the jokes John pull can make Rose laugh. We have clear evidence of this in a later conversation. In response to a remark by Rose on the cost of stairs, John says that he could have “told” Rose about stairs and that the harm from stairs “KEEPS HAPENING [SIC];” paralleling Dave’s jokes from Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff(2385). Rose responds by covering her mouth with a hand in an unsuccessful attempt to stifle her laughter. Simply put, Rose finds John funny. However, pranks and jokes aren’t limited to John. While it wasn’t a joke, John accuses Rose of making a “top of the line prank” in her descriptions of John’s posters always having been defaced. She says that “laughter” is “good” and the “best way” to avoid melodrama which only further incites John in his fake laughter(2904). The above examples are clear indications of the importance jokes and pranks have in the relationship John and Rose share.
Additionally, John and Rose express their love of jokes and pranks in more subtle ways through wordplay. In response to Rose’s snooping around his house, John says that Rose could clean his cake-filled toilet as a means of satisfying her “OCD complex;” prompting Rose to question if a “disorder” could also be a “complex” (2060). John responds with playful banter that, for Rose, it “probably” is possible. While subtle, John and Rose use words to playfully jab at one another. In a later discussion about parents, Rose admits blame for “not informing Social Services” about John’s father (2074). As before, John and Rose employ subtle word play to poke fun at one another as illustrated by John’s response of “I know!” However, the word play employed is not always subtle. Faced with a mysterious timer after releasing his kernelsprite, John and Rose emphasize that John doesn’t have time for “asinine tomfoolery,” “unmitigated poppycock,” “extravagant hogwash,” or “whatever silly thing [Rose is] typing” (2087). While John’s situation was ominous, John and Rose still have time to engage in humorous wordplay. However, important in understanding the jokes, pranks, and wordplay used by John and Rose when talking to one another is that they are positive in nature and are not derisive. This is further emphasized by another element of the relationship between John and Rose; that they care for one another.
The ways in which John and Rose care for one another is illustrated in the ways they help one another, the concern they express over each other’s well-being, and more generally-applicable gestures of care which don’t fit into either of the two expressed above. As Rose is John’s server but John isn’t Rose’s, directly helping one another is limited to only examples of Rose helping John. While learning the controls of sburb, Rose uses the cursor to lift up the rabbit John got from Dave to see how the cursor works in picking up objects (2047). While Rose could have simply lifted any object up and down, Rose instead picks up John’s rabbit and gently place it back in its box, resulting in a goofy smile from John. Rose chooses to test out the controls in a way that makes John happy. Later, when John struggles to lift his sledge hammer, Rose offers to help. She helps John by lifting the sledge hammer above his head until he is able to bring it down by himself (2076). Rose is able to pick up when John needs help and acts on such cues. Furthermore, Rose is willing to fight against “inclement weather” in her aid of John early in the comic; saying to herself “oh, the things you’ll do” to help John, or more broadly, a friend (2134). Rose is willing to make personal sacrifices in order to help John. This is because Rose understood that John was in danger and that she cared about John’s well-being.
Another way in which John and Rose show their care for one another is by concern for each other’s well-being. After John enters the medium, he first spends time scurrying around his house. Although John is aware Rose is pestering him, John chooses to run around his house instead of confirming to Rose that he is ok. Rose chides John for this, saying that John should have “answered [her] sooner” (2156). Rose is bothered that John didn’t confirm his safety right away after entering and expresses her annoyance by asking that John talk to her sooner. Rose is concerned over John and would prefer John alleviate her fears over his safety immediately instead of delaying such confirmation. While John seems fine at first, he quickly elicits inquiry from Rose regarding his well-being due to his odd actions streaming from WV’s influence. Rose asks if John “is ok” as he seems “tentative” (2168). Once again, Rose expresses concern over John’s well-being. However, this concern is not limited to John’s physical and mental well-being. After learning that Dave is leeching grist from John, Rose asks Dave if “John knows” about the theft (3488). Rose is concerned over John’s reaction when finding out that Dave took grist from him without permission. As such, Rose is concerned over both John’s friendship with Dave as well as John’s financial well-being. John also expresses concern for Rose. Rose’s problems throughout act two are extensive; her internet connection is unstable, her power source is immediately limited, and a fire is quickly approaching her house. While Rose was unable to get online, John expresses concern over Rose’s well-being to Dave in that John “hope[d] [Rose] [was] ok” (2286). John is clearly concerned over Rose’s safety and worried about her. After learning that Rose has likely entered the medium, John expresses relief that Rose is safe; that Rose has “made it here alive and stuff” (3423). John’s relief at Rose’s safety exemplifies John’s concern for Rose’s well-being, as do earlier examples exemplify Rose’s concern for John’s.
To further the point, John’s and Rose’s care for each other can also be expressed in broader senses. Of point are the two letters John and Rose sent to one another for each other’s birthday as well as the effort Rose put into John’s gift. In John’s letter to Rose, he begins by thanking Rose for being a “great friend” and says that he knows that Rose “care[s]” about the people in her life. John gives Rose knitting needles and yarn as he thinks Rose is “really creative” and that it will take Rose’s mind off of the “serious business” she is always preoccupied with (2991). John is concerned over how Rose spends her time and tries to encourage another outlet for her to spend her energies. He states outright that he ‘knows’ Rose is a caring individual and that she has been a great friend. The thought John put into his gift to Rose and its accompanying letter are indicative of John caring about Rose. Similarly, Rose is expressive in her care for John in her letter to him for his birthday. Rose indicates that she knows John wasn’t being “passive-aggressive” in his suggestion of a better hobby. Furthermore, Rose emphasizes that the gift was appreciated by detailing the importance of the gift to herself. She uses the gift John gave her to craft the gift she gives John. The bunny she reknit was an “heirloom” that was held “dear” to her. The rabbit is something that Rose “used to love” and she wishes to give it to John as a “sentimental” gesture (3610). To elaborate, Rose “spent months” focusing on knitting expressly so that she could make a “perfect” gift for John(2989). Rose is willing to spend effort to show that she appreciates John, and his gift, and is willing to give John something she loved as a child. Additionally, Rose is willing to put time and effort into her gift as she truly wishes for John to understand how much she did appreciate the gift. The gifts both John and Rose give to one another represent how much they do care for one another. Additionally, John’s gift to Rose was meant to encourage Rose to better herself.
Another element of the relationship John and Rose share is their tendency to encourage each other to better themselves. This is done with both positive and negative reinforcement. While John does encourage Rose to be more creative and less gloomy, as this was largely covered in another section, it will be left out here. With such limits in place, positive reinforcement is given by Rose to John. After John’s insight regarding the nature of alchemy combinations with the punch-card system, Rose compliments John for having come up with a “good idea” and further encourages John by saying it was “nice work” (2536). Rose firstly describes John idea as good; encouraging John to use his mind to solve problems in the future. Furthermore, she attributes John’s good idea to his effort, as evident in her word choice of ‘work.’ As such, Rose has an interest in encouraging John to better himself. Later, Rose again encourages John for his effort after John had defeated two shale ogres. Leading in, Rose encourages John for having done a “good job!” (2780). As before, the emphasis is placed on John’s personal achievement and the compliment serves to encourage John to better himself. John values Rose’s encouragement and seeks it out. After his initial alchemy binge, John asks Rose to “stop” their conversation so that she could “acknowledge” the the item he had just made, which Rose thinks is “awesome” (2924). Given such, John clearly values the positive reinforcement Rose gives him and is willing to ask for encouragement (that Rose is willing to give).
However, encouragement is not limited to positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement has also been employed, by both John and Rose, in their encouragement of each other to be better. As before, Rose is a much more active agent in encouraging John than John is in encouraging her. Rose gives John a “swift drubbing” in a failed attempt to “deter” John from a fit he is throwing due to influence from WV (2330). This effort is later extrapolated on from Rose’s point of view. Rose is to the point in her text messages to John in which she asks him to “snap out of it” (2370). Although unsuccessful, Rose is willing to use negative reinforcement to encourage John to act in a better manner and she is willing to be forceful at it. However, WV’s influence over John continues to influence John to act like an idiot. As John had picked up many frivolous items, Rose was unable to contact John while he was under particularly strong influence from WV. Rose questions why John “pick[ed] up all that stupid shaving cream” and calls such action “so pointless” (2405). John’s inability to respond, both as a result of the shaving cream as well as WV’s influence, causes frustration to Rose so great that she has to muffle her screams with a pillow (2418). As before, Rose is willing to use forceful negative reinforcement to encourage better actions from John. She becomes frustrated at the lack of progress and clearly wants John to act more rationally; something that is better for him to do. However, Rose isn’t the only one to use negative reinforcement. John gently chides Rose for for her difficulty in fixing his bathroom. In response to Rose dropping John’s bathtub in his hallway, John affirmatively states that Rose can “see [him]” and asks Rose to tell him “what is wrong with this picture” while John stands in his misplaced bathtub (2074). While less forceful, John uses negative reinforcement to encourage Rose to be more careful with what she is doing. This surfaces again later when Rose throws the same bath-tub through John’s house. John emphasizes that such action was “so totally unnecessary!” (2438). John is more forceful in this instant but continues the theme of encouraging Rose to ‘think before she leaps.’ As both John and Rose strive to encourage the other to be better, they both understand each other well.
However, as well as they understand each other, another elements of their relationship is that there are many things they consider ‘weird’ about each other. As John examined the alchemiter for the first time, he responds to learning that Rose is snooping around his house that Rose has a “weird” OCD complex (2060). With his misappropriate of OCD as a ‘complex,’ John plays this off as a joke. With Rose’s dry response that such a thing “sounds complicate,” John responds by trailing off with “anyway…” John states outright that there are ‘weird’ things about Rose, things that he finds strange about her. His later uneasiness about how to best play off his mistake as a joke speaks to potential unease he feels about the topic of Rose’s ‘strangeness’ being brought up in a discussion. This unease is revisited by a more direct demonstration later. As Rose describes in poetic terms how the sun’s “lurid glare” has moved on, John responds simply with “haha, um, ok.” (2074). John is unsure on how to respond to Rose’s poetry. Essentially, John’s reaction indicates that he finds Rose strange at times. This does not mean it is a negative reaction, however. When Rose was pressed on why she hadn’t said happy birthday to John, she defends herself by saying that she had wanted something better than “meager well-wishes” (2156). However, Rose does wish John a happy birthday. John laughs at how “silly” Rose is being, finding it sufficient enough for John to say “oh jeez.” John’s reaction to Rose’s explanation indicates how odd and ‘silly’ he found it for Rose to think that she couldn’t wish John a happy birthday until she finished her gift. However, John is not alone in finding Rose weird; she also finds John weird. For her guide, Rose provides a page of pictures from her and John’s session. Including amongst said pictures is one labeled “weirdo.” For its description, Rose describes John as a “weird guy.” In another picture, taken of John riding his pogo-ride as a steed and fighting imps, Rose can only say that she has “no idea what the fuck [John]’s doing” (2410). Suffice it to say, Rose also finds John weird. Her labeling of the picture and the descriptions within clearly indicates she thinks John is kind of a weird guy. The clearest indication of John finding Rose weird, however, comes much later after Rose has entered into the medium. Rose asks if John finds it “weird” when she watches him. John says the he feels weird “just talking” to Rose and that having Rose be able to see her is “weird frosting” on a “big weirdo cake” (3423). Let there be no doubt, there are times in which either John thinks Rose is weird or Rose thinks John is weird. Together, with the previously described elements, these attributes of the relationship John and Rose have shed light on its driving forces and its possible culmination.
The objective of this section is to demonstrate how the above elements act cohesively to create the relationship that John and Rose have. For this purpose, an even from the comic is used in reference. Starting at page 3590 and continuing, with breaks, to page 3654 incorporate John’s crash into Rose’s room and his eventual department. However, as Rose’s birthday letter to John has already been covered by another section, that will be left out in this case study. For convenience, parenthetical references are not included. While John is much more active than Rose during this time (as a result of Rose being asleep through most of it), this section has been divided between John and Rose to offer, primarily, organization to the depth of material examined but also to allow for insight into each character’s thought by creating a clear focus.
We begin with John, who has crashed into Rose’s room as a result of directions he was given by Terezi. While this account will not strictly list every event which John does while in Rose’s room, it will list evidence chronologically and create a narrative of the events in a way that makes sense. After pestering from Dave in which Dave advocates snooping through Rose’s room, John goes over to Rose and tries to wake her up. Whilst doing such, John continues to talk to Dave. John “feels weird” at the idea of running around Rose’s room and would rather wake Rose up. Instead, John argues that he should respect Rose’s privacy rather than invade her privacy. In this way, John demonstrates that he cares and respects Rose while also illustrating that he still ‘feels weird’ around her. This is further pronounced by the way in which John tries to wake up Rose. John decides to keep his gloves on while trying to jostle Rose awake, creating a boundary between him and Rose that prevents physical contact. Later, while being tricked by Dave to pick up Rose’s journals, John mentions that Rose had been “so tight lipped” over what his birthday gift would be. This speaks of how important Rose held John’s gift and also of the curiosity John had for the gift. In either case, John or Rose cared for one another and valued the gift or surprise, respectively. While browsing through Rose’s bookshelf, John takes one of Rose’s books and justifies it as Rose always “trying to get” him to read her “weird” books anyways. Rose’s persistence in trying to create a shared hobby with John is indicative of how much she values her friendship with John . Also, once again, John describes something of Rose’s as ‘weird.’ It doesn’t take long for John to do this again. While considering his departure, John considers leaving a thank you note to Rose under her hair band but decides against it as “creepy.” While referencing himself instead of Rose, that John realizes that his actions could be construed as ‘weird’ or ‘creepy’ to Rose demonstrates John’s understanding of Rose and, possibly, his appreciation of the context between them (however limited he may be in understanding it). Lastly, John has a conversation with Kanaya in which he pretend to be Rose. Although joking, John does say that he, as Rose, is in love with John. Again, I wish to emphasize that John was only joking and states that outright. From the aforementioned, we see in pay how John interacts with and considers himself when it comes to Rose. He finds it weird to be around her and appreciates that she would probably find it weird too. He respects her privacy and doesn’t want to hurt her. While incompetent, John still defends Rose against Dave and tries his best to treat Rose and her possessions with the care she deserves.
Continuing both with Rose and, as luck would hold, directly chronologically, we start with Rose’s dreamself who has just seen John on dream Dave’s computer. Almost instantly, dream Rose disappears; allowing for Rose to wake up. Rose “hurr[ies] to the door” so that she can hopefully stop John before he goes “galvinating off” elsewhere. In both cases, Rose demonstrates that she wants to see John. She wastes no time waking up once her dreamself realizes John is in her house. Furthermore, once awake, Rose hurries to the door in fear that John will leave. Unfortunately for Rose, her progress is hindered by a “thoughtful, yet mischievous” thank-you prank from John. Jokes and pranks continue to play an important role in the way John and Rose interact. Although John felt weird at the idea of leaving a note, he had no qualms about pranking Rose. So delayed, by the time Rose had gotten outside her house, she was simply too late. John had used his jet pack to go galvinating off on his own adventure while taking Mutie. Rose’s pose on page 3653 and 3654 is up for interpretation. Depending on one’s viewpoint, it can be read simply as someone who is sad to have missed an opportunity to finally meet in person with a friend. However, I think an argument could be made that her pose in 3653, of reaching out to John as he fades from view, speaks more of true disappointment. Rose values John and is truly saddened to have not been able to meet him. Regardless of which may be the case as of current, the entire event of John crashing into Rose’s house up to Rose reaching out to John as he fades away can be used as retroactive foreshadowing by Andrew in the event of any development of John and Rose as a couple. The potential nodules have been placed should he decide to take the comic in this direction.
For concluding remarks, primarily as I felt it difficult to incorporate these arguments, I will outline in a very basic way what I believe are some conciliatory evidence regarding the possibility of John and Rose as a couple. For simplicity (and because this thing is too damn long by now), I will list page numbers and include a brief description on why they could support John and Rose as a couple. For further convenience, I will sort the pages by act.
2063: Andrew has pointed to similarities between hivebent and homestuck as fleshing out and further defining previous events in homestuck as relates their potential symbolism. One of these symbols appears to be lifting toilets out of a person’s house, as Rose does here.
2233: Dave mentions that John would be ‘tickled retarded’ to play with Rose.
2342: Rose and Jade talking about John’s gift. Rose mentions ’ burning John.’ Later admits she doesn’t mean it.
2659: Nanna mentions the four players, by their titles, in two pairs; one of John and Rose, one of Jade and Dave.
2838/pony: Non-canon scene of Rose riding maplehoof. John appears as a cowboy during one cut-away.
3258: Start of act 4; LOWAS walk-around. For ease, the relevant text
“nanna, there are more imps than ever down here and they seem to be getting stronger.”
“Yes, dear. There are plenty of imps up here too. I had to start giving them some cookies because I baked too many. I hope you don’t mind!”
“no, that’s ok. also they look different.”
“That is because a new prototyping has taken place.”
“Your pretty young friend has joined you in the Medium!”
“whoa, wait, rose is here? where is she? will i find her down here somewhere???”
3830: Baby Rose tugs at John’s pants-leg.
3831: John giving Rose (and Jade) bunnies.
4528: Karkat trolls John. John confirms not a homosexual. Mentions that he is confused by troll shenanigans
4637: Dave warns John to watch out for Vriska.
4690: Memo in which Karkat brings up the idea of John marrying Rose.
4705: Rose demonstrates a knowledge of troll romance, saying that she ‘forgot’ about it. Could indicate disinterest in the idea.
I pretty much love John and Rose’s relationship. Well. At the beginning. I don’t really know much about it after act like 4 or 5. But it’s like that relationship with your best friend and you say something incredibly bitingly sarcastic and it either goes completely over their head or they play along so well you can’t tell if their serious.