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"Rescue" by Anita Shreve

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Rescue is a book written by Anita Shreve. Anita in her book used simple characters who were very easy to identify with and her story is real since one can feel the story unfolding since it talks more about the current issues concerning the challenges of single parenthood. Her story is about a family which was torn apart by alcohol and life’s subtle turnings. This paper is mainly focused on the three main characters: Peter, Sheila, and Rowan Where the author used to characters to bring out the main themes of the book with Peter being the main character in the book where the whole book revolves about him. These characters helped in the developing of the frailty of relationship, the thrash of people or individual to adopt economic hardships and resisting separation.

Peter Webster

Peter Webster is the protagonist in the book. Peter is a rookie paramedic who worked as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and he was the one who saved Sheila Arsenault when she he found her Cadillac crashed on a tree. The girl according to Webster was pretty and he was drawn to her beauty because it all started when he was cutting her out of the car wreck when he got attracted to her and he could not resist her white bikini underpants, her mouth which looked generous, and above all, her chestnut hair which was glossy. He was 21 years old when he met Sheila who was by then 24 years old and they were both very young.

This attraction of Peter to Sheila made him to seek to seek her out when he ignored all the warnings given to the paramedics about fraternizing with patients where he tracked her down where she lived in the outskirts of town where at first, she was very hostile to him. Peter was determined to win the love of Sheila because he did not seem deterred by the lack of appreciation of all his heroic deeds by Sheila he strongly believed that given the chance, he would bring out the girl who was beautiful and sexy according to him back to life again. In his love affair with Sheila, he got Sheila pregnant where she gave him a beautiful daughter, Rowan whom he loved very much and was willing to take all what it could take for the sake of his daughter. This was very evident when after the accident where he offered Sheila $1500 cash money so that she could vanish from his life and that of his daughter and start a brand new life somewhere else for the good of them all since she could have ended up in prison. He had feared that the drinking habits of Sheila would affect his daughter by making her also an alcoholic. Little did he know the harm that he was causing on his daughter since he denied her the love of her mother even though she was an alcoholic. The appearance of Sheila in Peter’s life was a happy incident in the beginning where it became unhappy and full of challenges which peter had to face all alone.

When Peter met Sheila in the car crash and in the hospital, he knew very well the type of person that he was involved with since he knew about her alcoholic problems and also about the abusive relationship that made her to succumb to the accident which initiated their meeting. Peter should not have sent Sheila away, instead, he should have given her advice on facing the truth even though it would have ended her in jail but it would have helped to transform her.

The character of Peter Webster in the book is very important since it shows the reader about all the issues about single parenthood and all the challenges which are associated with it when it comes to situations where the parent has to make a choice especially when the children become deviant which may call for the attention of the other parent. Peter is a single parent where he brought up Rowan single handedness without the presence of her mother who was an alcoholic. Alcoholism is very bad since it can lead to the loss of loved ones.

Due to alcohol, Webster lost his only daughter and his true love since he had to take the decision to send her away. He truly loved her but he believed that it would have been better for her to just begin a new life than spent the rest of her years rotting in prison. This broke his heart but he knew he had to do it for the sake of Rowan where he wanted her to have a decent life which was free from the alcoholic influence by her mother. He thought that he was trying to mold the future of Rowan by so doing which in return led the child to get troubled in her later years in her adolescent years which he could not even correct.

Peter is an open hearted man since after he rescued Sheila from the accident, he knew very well that she was an alcoholic and he ended up falling in love with her. Little did he know that it was going to be a bitter part in his life because as much as he was willing to help Sheila change, the more she got deviant and went back to her old drinking habit. He was also willing to help his daughter quit the heavy drinking habits that she had adopted as an adolescent by accepting to bring back her mother so that they could help mold her together since the young Rowan had suffered very much from lacking the caring of her own mother.

Peter later after the bad behavior of his daughter, he admitted to having done wrong in sending his wife away from his daughter since she had adapted alcoholism from somewhere else without the influence of her mother which showed that he could not control her. He had to take another decision of bringing back Sheila so as to help him to mold their daughter. Which was a success since afterwards, Rowan got better.

Sheila Arsenault

Sheila is the wife of Peter Webster and she appeared in the young life of Peter which was a very happy and exciting event since he had been her rescuer. She had an affair which got her pregnant for Peter where they both married and she gave birth to Rowan. She was Rowan’s mother who was absent in the life of her daughter for 15 years which made her daughter to be troubled and follow her footsteps since she also became an alcoholic later in her college life.

Shreve described Sheila as an attractive lady who was brave, tough talking and one with troubled eyes, full of  brutal desire, and brilliant with a ‘never look back’ fortitude. She is brought out as an alcoholic which lands her in trouble. She is brought out as a troubled woman because after Peter fell in love with her, she still brought him many problems from her past love lives which seemed to have made her be an alcoholic. This explained the cause of the accident she had when peter saved her life because at the scene of the crash, she was drunk.

Sheila is a character with difficulties and life struggles in her past. Sheila’s history was that she had a hard babyhood where she was in most occasions forced to learn how to play pool which made her to jostle and she made men angry in a majority of the cases where she won against them in the many games that they played. She was involved in an abusive relationship which she was trying to run away from at the time of the accident which got her to meet Webster.

After she delivered her daughter rowan, she never changed in her irresponsible behavior since she was brought down by the new motherhood isolation which she was still not prepared for, she got back to her old drinking habits. Sheila is ignorant because after having been rescued from the accident which almost cost her life, she never learnt any lesson from it about drinking and driving. Before she got to fall in love with peter, she was on the run from an abusive relationship which might have explained her behavior. Shreve brought out this incident as the dramatic climax of the novel where Sheila went driving with her baby and ended up causing an accident which almost killed Rowan, her daughter. This action by Sheila brought suffering to Webster, her husband who had to take her daughter away from her and sent her away so that she could not spoil her daughter.

Sheila was of questionable character since in the book, after she was offered money to go away, she accepted the money and she quietly went away. She never thought of the love that Webster and she had, or her daughter who would require her motherly love. In reality, there is no mother who would have been willing to leave her only child. Sheila did not seem to accept her responsibilities as a mother which explained why she went away easily without putting up a fight.


Rowan is another character in the book who is brought out as being an innocent child who has grown without the love of her mother since she was brought up by her father with the help of his parents. She is the daughter to Webster and Sheila. Her life was smooth until she reached the age of 17 where she became unruly where she was always angry at her father Webster which made her father helpless and wish to seek the help of Sheila who is her mother. This unruly behavior by Rowan made the situation worse that neither her father nor any EMT could save her since her case was a psychological one.

This is because after having been admitted in the Middle berry college, which was her college of choice, she became rebellious and her grades in the college begun falling. She also started drinking heavily just like her mother did and she seemed to be distant. Shreve used Rowan to bring out the challenges which are normally faced by the children who are brought up by one parent which may lead to child to start having deviant and unruly behaviors. Rowan is a troubled child and she shows all the adolescent problems which occur in children when they are separated from their mothers.

After her mother was brought back to her life, it was very clear that she got what she really desired for since in the end of the book it is shown that she was not troubled at all since her mother was back in the picture. She was depressed and troubled which explained her behavior since these feelings made her get absorbed in alcohol where she thought that alcohol was going to take away all her problems and troubles which she was very wrong since she had started to develop a trait which was easy to start but very hard to deviate from it.

In conclusion, the story by Shreve portrays a current real life story since what she brought up in her book is what is happening right now in the modern world of today. Webster, Sheila, and Rowan are important characters in the story since they help in bringing out all the challenges that small families undergo as a result of alcoholism, family separation, the bitterness of love when two people who are in love have to be separated, and the happy reunification of a separated family. This story shows us that nothing is so great like risking absolutely anything for the sake of our children where Webster risked his love, marriage, and dignity for the sake of Rowan.

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