Sister Ruth forcefully expresses all of her opinions, likes, and dislikes, regardless of whom it offends—she tells children to get out of her way and calls them “boring” (when she does not want to teach them), she presses a handkerchief to her nose in the marketplace to infer that the locals stink, and she rebels directly against the Mother Superior’s rules. Though she starts out gentle and sweet and kind, more and more as the story goes on, she falls into bluntness and insubordination—accusing Sister Clodagh of lust for Mr. Dean (an affliction she shares), another sister of “enjoying the excuse to touch me,” and creating a disruption at dinner when she lets everyone have it with a volley of accusations. She does not want to be touched, held back, or punished for her behavior, and once the Mother Superior denies her the ability to teach girls to make lace (the one thing she’s good at), she becomes resentful and self-destructive. After offering herself to a man who does not want her and being rejected, she sees another woman as the source of her frustration and, failing to kill her, leaps to her death to end her suffering. She has the most ability out of all the sisters to sense the environmental influences of the palace and become susceptible to them – Ruth finds it easy to let her imagination run away with her, and get caught up in the tragic romance of the place and the dead woman who once lived there. She soon ‘gets lost’ in its influences, but emerges from these spells long enough to show her intuitive insight into people, by making direct accusations based on what she believes is in their hearts (lust, lesbianism, and wanting to have a child of her own… “but she never will, and you can see how much it tears her up inside”). Ruth struggles to change at first, because she is settled in her routine, but collects little pieces of things that remind her of Mr. Dean – or that belonged to him.

Enneagram: 4w3 so/sx

Everyone agrees that Ruth is “more sensitive than most people… and more of a problem.” She is easily upset and troubled, but also can cause discord among her sisters with her refusal not to state the facts. She says most of them want to ignore the unpleasant things and pretend they do not exist; her job is to bring them to the light and force her sisters to confront their demons. Even though the priest is taken with her, he tells the Mother Superior that Ruth is her challenge and her test to overcome, the thorn in her side due to her bitterness. She suffers from a lot of envy that drives her to alienate herself from the other sisters. Ruth has a lot of self-confidence and pride in what she is good at; she wants to be noticed. Praised. Loved. But as the Mother Superior reduces her responsibilities due to her unhinged nature and takes away the one thing that she loves the most (making lace and teaching the local girls how to do it), Ruth becomes angrier and angrier about her perceived injustices. She makes no effort to pretend her feelings are anything other than what they are, about tending to children (she doesn’t like them), and she enjoys telling others how persecuted she is. Caught up in her own destructive impulses, when the man she loves rejects her, she flies into a rage and then commits suicide, because she sees no hope or reason to live.