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Ruth Walker is the mother of Addy Walker. Addy refers to her as Momma.

Personality and Facts

Ruth, like Ben and her children until their escape and the end of the war, has been enslaved her entire life. She's cautious but practical and while she thinks hard before acting, she takes action when she needs to or feels she must do so. She does not speak without thinking and keeps her feelings on the inside many times (which may be a byproduct of growing up enslaved). Ruth is a skilled seamstress and does very fine work; it is partially because of this skill that she believed Master Stevens would not break up her family, though her skills are mostly used for mending. After the selling of her husband and son, she decides she cannot risk losing Addy and decides to escape--and has to make the difficult choice to leave her youngest, Esther, behind so she and Addy won't be caught.

In freedom, Ruth does not make much at her job; Mrs. Ford starts her out at a dollar a week, but by the time of High Hopes for Addy the ten-dollar yearly fee for the Institute for Colored Youth is still more than she makes in two months of work. She is a hard worker, many times seeking to complete her work over taking any leisure time for herself. She is an accomplished cook and smart; while initially illiterate as most enslaved people were, she is quickly able to pick up basic literacy from Addy's teaching. She gives Addy advice as she grows up about how to deal with a world where blacks are not considered to be at an equal position to whites.

She is a devoted mother and wife and encourages Addy to do her best and improve in all ways. She wants her children to grow up in a world better than what she had. Ruth believes that one should not to give in to hating white people for their abuses, and reminds herself and Addy that a heart with hate doesn't have room for love.

In The Books

Meet Addy: An American Girl

Ruth is much more reluctant about running away from the plantation than Ben, believing that the war will end soon and free them properly, and citing various reasons such as the fact that they have never traveled far from the plantation and they only have hearsay to go on for the route to take.

When Sam and Ben are sold, Ruth decides that she and Addy cannot not wait any longer and the risk of the man coming back for Addy is too high, so she must go through with the plan for escape. She has to make the hard decision to leave Esther behind with Auntie Lula and Uncle Solomon as, with Ben now gone, she cannot safely carry a baby with them to escape.

The first day after running away, Ruth gives Addy a cowrie shell necklace; the shell once belonged to her great grandmother, Aduke, who brought it with her from Africa. That night, they must cross a river to continue. As they are crossing, Ruth is pulled under by the current and Addy saves her from drowning. In the process of this, Ruth loses her kerchief.

Ruth is reluctant to go knock on Miss Caroline's door, unsure if this is the right house, but secure once they know they are safe.

Miss Caroline gives her a brown dress to wear to Philadelphia.

Addy Learns a Lesson: A School Story

Addy's Surprise: A Christmas Story

Ruth spends most of the book working on a Christmas dress for Isabella Howell.

When Mrs. Howell proceeds to complain about the quality of her work when returning the dress, Ruth holds her tongue but is clearly upset.

Happy Birthday, Addy!: A Springtime Story

Addy Saves The Day: A Summer Story

Changes for Addy: A Winter Story

Ruth is waiting with Ben and Sam at the front of the boarding house when Addy is late home, having found Esther and Lula. She is worried until she sees who Addy has with her. She is crying as she picks Esther up, remarking how big she's gotten and thanking Lula for bringing her baby home. When Esther--who, due to being separated for so long--reaches for Lula for comfort, Addy sees that Ruth is about to cry again, but this time it's because her own baby doesn't know her. She listens with the whole family--and has made tea for Lula--while Lula tells about the last days on the plantation, the three of them leaving the plantation, and Solomon's passing. She then suggests that Lula and Esther rest, and that she'll go up and get the bed ready.

Addy Studies Freedom

The Saturday after the city-wide celebration of the end of the Civil War, Ruth has already left for work. She leaves breakfast and a note for Addy on her slate to get five cents worth of neckbones on account at the butchers.

Addy's Wedding Quilt

Addy's Little Brother

Addy's Summer Place

Ruth takes Addy and Esther on the train to Cape Island. She puts Addy's hair in curls for the train ride using paper rollers, lard, and curling wax. She uses the month June-vember as an example of time, and assures Addy it is a month and she'll understand when she's older. Ruth is reluctant to go to the Banekker House as she feels there is work to do before supper, but decides they can take a rest before going to the campsite.

She comforts Addy after her encounter with the white girl and explains that since Addy is getting older, she will have to learn her place in society, beneath whites. She tells about her her childhood of playing with the white children and how they played as equals when younger, but that as she got older she had to accept that her place was beneath them as a enslaved person and that, while slavery is over, whites and blacks keep to their own after a certain age--one that Addy has reached.

When Addy ruins her hair swimming, Ruth says that Addy isn't quite ready to be a young lady.

High Hopes for Addy

Ruth lectures Addy for yelling at her little sister as she wrecks her things. She tells Addy that Esther messes with her things because she only wants to be like her.

When Addy hides her recommendation letter in shame, Esther digs it out of Addy's school bag and gives it to Ruth, which leads to the family learning about Addy's recommendation. Ruth is very proud that Addy has been recommended for the school.

Shadows on Society Hill

Ruth loses her job with Mrs. Ford as she is moving to Maine. Shortly after their move to the house Elizabeth Cope asks Ruth to help her fit her wedding dress.

A New Beginning: My Journey with Addy

In The Play

Ruth is a prominent character with few changes from the books. In the Seattle production she was played by Demene E. Hall.[1]