Rose Walker

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Rose Walker is a fictional character from the Sandman series written by Neil Gaiman. She makes her first appearance in issue #10, part one of The Doll's House story arc. She is a beautiful young girl, a blonde with red- and purple-dyed streaks in her hair. (In later issues she is shown as having red hair with a blonde streak.) There are various indications that Rose is, or became, one of the immortals occasionally featured in Sandman. Desire of the Endless is Rose's maternal grandparent (Desire is an "it" and impregnated Rose's grandmother with no semen transfer), and there are various examples through the book of characters falling in love or lust with her very easily, perhaps through this influence.

The Doll's House[edit]

When she first appears, Rose has been dreaming and is awakened by her mother, Miranda. Upon attempting to recount the dream to her mother, Rose is ignored; a caption of her internal reveals her mother "wasn't interested in dreams, back then".[1] She and her mother are traveling to England to see a woman named Unity Kinkaid.

In the car on the way from the airport, Rose has another dream in which she sees Morpheus and Lucien, who are talking about a "dream vortex," something that can bring about the end of the Dreaming itself. Morpheus states the vortex is a person—in fact, it is Rose herself.

Rose and her mother learn that Unity Kinkaid is actually Miranda's mother (and so Rose's grandmother). Unity was a victim of the 'sleepy sickness' that resulted from Morpheus' capture, waking up only after Morpheus finally freed himself. During her long period of unconsciousness she was raped and subsequently conceived, giving birth to Rose's mother. Now that Unity has awakened she wants to get to know her lost family.

But one member is missing—Rose's brother Jed—so Rose sets out to find him. This leads her to Florida, where she finds a place to stay in a large house near Cape Canaveral. The house is populated by the crossdressing landlord Hal; the eerily perfect couple of Ken and Barbie; the mysterious and odd gentleman named Gilbert; and the pair of Chantal and Zelda, known as the Spider Women.

With the help of Gilbert and even Morpheus, Rose is able to find Jed and save him from a convention of serial killers. But Rose has started to develop her "dream vortex" powers, so Morpheus decides to slay her. Unity appears in Rose's dream and asks her granddaughter to give her (Rose's) heart to her. Rose complies, and Unity takes in Rose's heart and then dies. Since the dream vortex then vanishes, Morpheus lets Rose live.

Morpheus learns that his sibling Desire had conceived Rose's mother on sleeping Unity. Thus, Rose is Desire's granddaughter and Dream's grandniece. Had Morpheus killed her he would have spilled the blood of his kin and invoked the wrath of the Furies.

A Game of You[edit]

Though Rose has no physical appearance in A Game of You, Morpheus claimed that the Cuckoo was bound to Barbie's dream skerry partially through Rose's actions. Barbie's housemate Foxglove is the former girlfriend of Rose's deceased friend Judy, a remarkable coincidence which Barbie and Foxglove remark on.

The Kindly Ones[edit]

In The Kindly Ones (Sandman #57-69) it is revealed that Rose, in her twenties, is living in an apartment beneath Lyta Hall in L.A. She is living off her Grandmother's inheritance and doing some writing about 50's TV shows. In her spare time she babysits Daniel Hall (though he is later kidnapped in her care) and looks after Zelda, the only living tenant of The Doll's House whom she maintains contact with.

Rose is affected by no longer having her 'heart' and often feels hollow and empty. She apparently never falls in love, or gets her heart broken, because she no longer possesses one in the spiritual sense. At one point she describes herself as "a cold bitch-on-wheels."

She doesn't age visibly. In The Doll's House we already see examples of her being taken for younger than her 21 years, and upon reaching 26 her youthful appearance is remarked on even more often.

However, her feelings of friendship towards others has not changed; she makes daily visits to the dying Zelda in the hospital, even paying for the medical costs; she refers to it mentally as 'A Vigil', because there is no-one else for the diseased woman. On one visit, Zelda gives Rose a message from her grandmother (suspected to be Unity, or possibly the amorphously-sexed Desire): if Rose will go to her she'll give Rose back her heart (which reinforces the idea that it was Unity - since she is the one who received Rose's heart, not Desire).

Intrigued, Rose travels once again to England, under the pretense of researching her grandmother's life. Here she is introduced to the Curator of Unity's Elderly Residents Home - none other than Paul McGuire, the lover of Alexander Burgess - and unwittingly makes contact with the Three Witches once more after searching for them in the broom closet where they had made their last encounter.

While in England, Rose apparently falls in love—for the first time as far as the reader knows—with Jack Holdaway, the nephew of her family's now-deceased British attorney (although she admits to herself that she only "really likes" him instead of being totally in love). Unfortunately, when she later gives him a surprise call, it turns out Holdaway is with someone else, whom he should have informed her about. (It is later implied that he killed himself when his lover, a man, discovered what he had done).

Depressed and agitated, Rose visits Paul, who resides in the house belonging to the comatose Alex Burgess. Exploring, she wanders into the basement room that contains the Glass Chamber where her Great-Uncle Morpheus had once been kept prisoner. Waiting for her there is her "grandparent": Desire of the Endless. Desire wishes to inform Rose of something, but before it can Rose interrupts, delivering a cryptic monologue that betrays her subconscious feelings about love. As Rose collapses to the floor in tears, Desire remarks that it preferred her when she was stoically complaining about not feeling anything.

Their encounter is interrupted by Paul, who strolls into the room as Desire disappears in a puff of smoke. Dazed, Rose recalls the incident as a dream...but it is revealed to be no dream, as Paul finds, on the floor, her heart, left by Desire in the form of a silver 'art deco' cigarette lighter.

Rose's story is a kind of rite-of-passage tale. Rose learns to open herself up, leaving her vulnerable to getting hurt, but also giving her the capacity to truly love and be loved.

The Wake[edit]

Rose appears briefly in The Wake, in which she meets and talks with her brother Jed in the Dreaming, and makes amends of a sort with Lyta Hall. She also tells her brother that she thinks she's pregnant, and it is assumed that the child is Jack Holdaway's.


  1. ^ Gaiman, Neil (1990). The Doll's House. DC Comics. pp. 45–48. ISBN 0-930289-59-5.