It all started when I noticed she used proper capitalization and punctuation. That made me appreciate her character, and she got off to a good start. Perhaps I’d feel the same way toward Dave if he’d started out on the right foot.
She made a comment at some point about battling through her mother’s cloud of gin and derision and I instantly felt sympathy.
We were introduced to her character and I immediately connected with her fondness for psychoanalysis, knitting, and creative writing, and I immediately picked up on the significance of her dead cat.
Having been personally confronted with the fear of the death of a beloved cat, I immediately sympathized. No, my pets are still alive, but I worry about them all the time as if they might drop dead any instance. The fact that they are in good health is irrelevant; I worry about them incessantly.
Already consumed by sympathy, seeing the extent of her passive-aggressive warfare with her mother was absolutely heartbreaking. Being able to piece together its effect on the poor girl was even worse. It’s easy to say she has mother issues that clearly led to her having difficulty expressing emotion and trusting others. But you have to visualize it!
A young Rose drawing a picture of Jaspers that is utterly terrible and showing it to Mom, who loves it so much she frames it and welds it to the fridge. What does Rose go through that five to ten years later it seems an insult? Does she increasingly often tug at her mother’s dress, asking for a bedtime story, only to find her mother too inebriated to be of use? Does Mom’s caring manifest more and more distantly, as someone who cares only in the barest minimum of the word caring?
Or was Mom always like that, but Rose never noticed the void until Jaspers died?
Did Mom try to reassure Rose when Jaspers went missing? Or was she too drunk to think of anything but herself? Did the incident help spur Mom’s alcoholism, or was she like that already?
How cognizant was Mom of her daughter’s needs? Was the neglect so unintentional that it’s a tragedy all around, with both Mom and Rose victims? Was the alcoholism something Mom could never have helped?
Or was Mom aware of her daughter’s growing distance, and did she willingly choose to put herself in front of her daughter? Were her attempts at spoiling her daughter crude attempts at bribery to put aside the slights, or was Mom such a prisoner that she genuinely thought she was doing what was best for her daughter?
Rose has to raise herself, in the “emotional development” sense of the term. She learns that Mom’s actions are not loving, and she has to redefine love to exclude everything her mother does. She grows to the point she takes everything as an insult, and when she talks to Jade about John’s present to her, she says things like:
TT: I suppose I’ll take a stab at learning the craft.
TT: It’s the least I can do in response to the subtle dig concealed in his gesture.
TT: He often tells me I “need a new hobby” when I make perfectly reasonable analytical remarks.
GG: oh but rose i dont think he meant anything like that by it!!
GG: you see not everybody always means the opposite of what they say the way you and dave always do
TT: His birthday is in a few months, isn’t it?
GG: i finally finished a present for him
GG: ive been working on it for years!!!!
TT: It’s so hard to tell when you’re joking.
TT: Or if you’re even capable of it.
GG: heheheh…. :)
GG: i just mailed it too so it is sure to get there on time
GG: mail takes a while to get anywhere from here!!!
TT: I’ll probably craft something with strong sentimental value.
TT: That should burn him.
GG: i dont think you really mean that!
TT: I guess not.
Note the bolded statements - “maybe” and “I guess not”.
The fact that she progresses from “maybe” and “I guess not” to writing him such a clearly genuine letter is really, really auspicious. It bodes well for her eventual character development and emotional maturation.
Think of it this way: I don’t know WHEN she met Dave and Jade and John. Given how the humans are divided into two groups - the “always means literally what they say” group of Jade and John, and the “always means the opposite of what they say” group of Rose and Dave - it can be assumed that until she did so, she hadn’t experienced any genuine emotion (at least from her perspective). It may be revealed that she’d been chatting with them for years, but to me it really doesn’t seem so.
So Rose and Dave are the two least emotionally mature - and when I say that, I mean their upbringings were very much not conducive to helping them establish healthy emotional states, interpersonal or intrapersonal.
And yes, I’m glad to see the development purely from a psychological point of view. But I also have visualized the troubles Rose has gone through, and I feel like I recognize her feelings, if not her exact circumstances. And when I visualize the steps she’s gone through before and by writing this letter…
It’s progress. And I know she’s not going to make all the right choices, and I know this comic isn’t going to be about steady, even progress for everyone. (Or at least, I take for granted that the comic isn’t going to be about steady, even progress for everyone. Having written and planned lots of character development stuff, I can say with some degree of safety that it tends to get worse for each time it gets better, and it never gets best until the very end.)
And every time I think of the letter she wrote to John, I start to tear up. I don’t even have to read it anymore; I have the whole thing memorized.
In short: I love Rose Lalonde because she evokes the most heartfelt emotions from me. But then, she only evokes the most heartfelt emotions from me because of how much I love her as a character.