Study Guide

Mr. Rudyard in Homecoming

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Mr. Rudyard

This man is a pretty nasty character. He's easily the worst person in the entire book since he's not just dismissive or rude to the Tillermans—instead he plots to kidnap them and goodness knows what else. Seriously. This dude is pure evil. From the first moment the Tillermans set eyes on him, they're freaked out:

The screen door opened and a man holding a napkin in his hand stepped out. As soon as he appeared, the dog stopped barking and crouched, fawning and whimpering. The man started toward the children. (2.5.28)

Keep in mind that until Mr. Rudyard set foot in the yard, that dog was barking and growling at the kids like he wanted to tear them limb from limb. But when his master comes out, he stops right away—so you just know this guy is up to some sadistic stuff.

We only see Mr. Rudyard for a few chapters, so we don't get to learn much about this jerk. He owns a farm; he has a wife; he's cool with lying; and he's super racist. Eventually he gets driven off by Claire and her whip, though we're pretty sure he deserves even worse. Unlike other not-so-nice folks in the novel, Rudyard doesn't have any backstory to explain away his cruelty. We never quite figure out what Mr. Rudyard has planned for the kids either, or what his creepy staring at Maybeth is all about. This ambiguity just makes him scarier, though—he's an unknown evil.

Mr. Rudyard represents pretty much everything that's terrible and dangerous in the world. Just a few chapters before meeting him, Dicey wonders if they can't just live on the road like this forever, and their encounter with Mr. Rudyard shows how impractical the roaming life would be. These kids are totally vulnerable when they run into a sicko like Mr. Rudyard, and they're darn lucky things turn out okay.

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