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Robert Francis Kennedy

“With all he had striven for smashed in a single afternoon, [Robert] had an overwhelming sense of the fragility and contingency of life. He had never taken plans very seriously in the past. He could not believe in them at all now…

Robert Kennedy at last traveled in that speculative area where doubt lived. He returned from the dangerous journey, his faith intact, but deepened, enriched. From Aeschylus and Camus he drew a sort of Christian stoicism and fatalism: a conviction that man could not escape his destiny, but that this did not relieve him of the responsibility of fulfilling his own best self. He supplemented the Greek image of man against fate with the existentialist proposition that man, defining himself by his choices, remakes himself each day and therefore can never rest. Life was a sequence of risks. To fail to meet them was to destroy a part of oneself.

He made his way through the haze of pain—and in doing so brought other sufferers insight and relief. ‘For the next two and a half years,’ wrote Rita Dallas, his father’s nurse, ‘Robert Kennedy became the central focus of strength and hope for the family…. Despite his own grief and loneliness, he radiated an inner strength that I have never seen before in any other man…. Bobby was the one who welded the pieces back together.’ As his father had said so long before, he would keep the Kennedys together, you could bet.

He was now the head of the family. With his father stricken, his older brothers dead, he was accountable to himself. The qualities he had so long subordinated in the interest of others—the concern under the combativeness, the gentleness under the carapace, the idealism, at once wistful and passionate, under the toughness—could rise freely to the surface. He could be himself at last.”


A passage pulled from Robert Kennedy and His Times by Arthur Schlesinger.

I promise this is the last section from Schlesinger or Dallek that I’ll post — at least for awhile.

RFK / JFKRobert Kennedy FamilyRobert Kennedy and ChildrenRobert Kennedy and daughterJohn F. And Jacqueline Kennedy With Baby Caroline Kennedy