Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane Summary and Analysis of Chapter 26: Everglades Picnic - Chapter 31: Cast & End Credits


Charles Foster Kane, now noticeably older and bald, comes down the stairs to Xanadu's Great Hall and finds Susan working on a puzzle in the fireplace. Their interaction is cold and without affection. Charles sits in a throne-like chair across the room from Susan - so far away that she doesn't hear him when he suggests a picnic in the Everglades. She is not interested in the idea of sleeping in tents, but Charles doesn't listen. In the next shot, they are sitting side-by-side in a car, and she tells him, "you never give me anything I really care about."

A wide shot reveals a line of identical black cars snaking along the beach. Cut to a lavish campsite, where a live jazz band entertains and a pig is roasted on a spit. Inside a decorated tent, Susan sits on the ground and shouts at Charles Foster Kane, dressed all in white, who is slumped dejectedly in a chair across from her. He asks Susan to speak more quietly. She accuses him of trying to buy her affections, and never sacrificing anything for her. He stands over her while the party, filled with anonymous revelers, rages on outside their tent. Susan and Kane stare each other down. He claims he does what he does because he loves her. She counters by saying he never loved her, he just wants to buy other people's love. Charles Foster Kane slaps her across the face, and Susan is defiant.

Back at Xanadu, Raymond, the butler, tells Charles Foster Kane that Susan wants to see him, and she's been packing up her things until morning. Charles enters his wife's quarters in an over-the-shoulder shot of a polished and confident Susan, draped in an elegant fur, ordering her maid to call the car. Charles slams the door, and is upset that the guests in the house will know that she's leaving him. He tries to embrace her, telling her he won't let her go. Susan wriggles free from his grasp and Charles makes one last emotional plea, promising to do things her way. He insists, "you can't do this to me." Susan points out that her leaving is not about him - but it's what she wants. She collects her confidence and marches authoritatively out the door and down the hall, without looking back.

Back in present day, Susan Alexander has lifted her head up from the table and is puffing a cigarette. She laughs about how she lost her money in the Depression, but it hasn't made her life "tough". She tells Thompson to speak to Raymond. Thompson comments that he feels sorry for Kane, and Susan agrees. The sun has risen, and it's time for their interview to end.

In present-day Xanadu, Raymond lights a cigarette and tells Thompson that if he wants to know the meaning of 'Rosebud', it will cost $1000. Thompson agrees, and follows Raymond down the stairs, both of their faces obscured by shadows. Raymond claims that Kane acted funny, but as his butler, he knew how to handle him. He mentions the time that Susan left Kane, signaling a return to the flashback.

A cockatoo fills the screen and screeches loudly as Susan Alexander Kane marches out of Xanadu for the last time, past Raymond. Raymond goes inside to see Kane standing in the doorway of Susan's room. In one of the film's most famous scenes, Charles Foster Kane proceeds to destroy the room, ripping the canopy off Susan's bed, hurling her things across the room, upending tables, overturning chairs, and emptying the bookshelves. He stumbles around the room stiffly, like Frankenstein off his balance, panting. Finally, he finds a tiny snow globe on a shelf and takes it in his hand. He looks down at the globe, which has a tiny snow-covered cabin inside, and whispers - "Rosebud," with tears in his eyes. Meanwhile, Raymond and Xanadu's entire staff has gathered outside the doorway. Kane walks out, in a miserable daze, and pockets the snow globe as he retreats. Kane walks through the house, past a hall of mirrors, and out of frame.

Back to the present tense, Raymond says that is all he knows about Rosebud. Thompson doesn't feel that this information is worth the money. Downstairs, the newspaper photographers take photos of Xanadu. An appraiser walks through Kane's treasures, several of which are now familiar to viewers: Mary Kane's stove (worth $2), a jigsaw puzzle, and the prize cup his employees at the Inquirer had engraved for him. Thompson has to tell his colleagues that he still doesn't know what Rosebud meant, but he doesn't think it would have unlocked Kane's secrets - it was just one piece of the puzzle that was Charles Foster Kane. The newspaper team leaves to catch their train.

A high angle shot reveals the utter breadth of Kane's collection of things - crates upon crates stacked in Xanadu's imposing Great Hall. The camera moves over the piles slowly, coming in closer, until it stops on a man's hands picking up a simple wooden sled. Raymond instructs the man to "throw that junk" into the fire. A large stove is burning and several workmen toss the worthless items from Kane's collection inside. The camera cranes into the flames as the man tosses the sled on top of the rubbish heap. Painted on the sled's surface is a simple flower, and the name - "Rosebud". Close up on the daintily stenciled word as the flames consume the sled.

The closing sequence of the film is nearly identical to the opening. Dissolve to an exterior shot of Xanadu at night, with a large bellow of black smoke curling out of the chimney, followed by the close-up of the "No Trespassing" sign". The final shot of the film is a wide shot of Xanadu - from outside the iron gates.


The scene in which Charles Foster Kane destroys Susan's room after she leaves was based on a tantrum that Welles himself threw in 1939 (he was famous for his temper) when John Houseman, the co-founder of the Mercury Theater, tried to convince Welles to move the ailing company back to New York. William Alland, who plays Thompson, was also Welles's assistant while he was making Citizen Kane. Alland claims that during the filming of this scene, Welles, who supposedly "never liked himself as an actor" reportedly became more emotional on-camera than Alland had ever seen. Welles had Tolland set up four cameras around the set, because doing destroying Susan's room more than once would have been difficult. Alland recalls, "[Welles] threw himself into the action with a fervor I had never seen in him. It was absolutely electric; you felt as if you were in the presence of a man coming apart" (Kael 53). Similarly, this scene is one of Charles Foster Kane's few vulnerable moments in Citizen Kane, and the first time he says the word 'Rosebud'.

As Kane walks away from the shambles of Susan's room, his snow-globe protected in his pocket, he passes through a mirrored hallway, creating the effect of an infinite number of Charles Foster Kanes walking side-by-side in morose synchrony. One of the most evocative images in the film, this shot is a Wellesian classic - the director loved mirrors, and utilized a similar technique in the final sequence of his 1947 film The Lady from Shanghai. It is as if Kane is finally able to reflect on his life, after he has lost everything - and has realized that perhaps he is not as invincible as he once believed. The camera stops on the wall of mirrors as Kane trudges off frame, making it look as though he's disappeared into an abyss.

These shots of Kane represent a definitive change in his character. He disappears into the frame, appearing to be a tiny speck against the dark and cavernous hallway. In contrast, in many of the most triumphant moments of Kane's life in the film thus far, the camera is positioned to capture Charles Foster Kane from a low angle, lionizing him in the frame. Examples include his smiling face after publishing his Declaration of Principles in his first issue of the Inquirer, and his speech at the rally before the gubernatorial election. In this final section of the film, after Susan leaves, Kane is finally forced to face his reality, which is a life - as the newsreel says - "alone in his never-finished, already-decaying pleasure palace; aloof, seldom visited, never photographed".

As noted in previous sections, the "Rosebud" narrative device in Citizen Kane has been a point of contention for many film critics. However, even if it is not fully satisfying as a single detail that sums up the life of Charles Foster Kane, it does provide additional insight into a man who has remained an enigma, even to those who knew him best. Bernstein pinpoints the irrational nature of specific memories when he gives his speech (Roger Ebert's favorite from the film), about a woman he once saw on the ferry and hasn't stopped thinking about for decades. Welles does not delve into Bernstein's speech any deeper, but it is likely that the image of this girl meant something significant to Bernstein. Was she representative of a life he eschewed (marriage, love affairs) to be beside Charles Foster Kane's side on his rollercoaster ride of a career? Regret is palpable for all characters in the film.

Meanwhile, "Rosebud" represents the childlike innocence that Charles Foster Kane lost the moment he left his mother and went along with Mr. Thatcher, beginning his path towards becoming the richest man in America. This innocence, the simple life he left behind, is the one thing his money could never buy. Although the complexity of the life of Charles Foster Kane is diluted by "Rosebud", Roger Ebert still was compelled to call it "the most famous word in the history of cinema" (Ebert). At the end of Citizen Kane, All that is left of Charles Foster Kane is a massive home full of things representing his successes, his failures, his relationships, and his travels - some of which will be sold, and some of which will be burnt for lack of better use. However, the overarching message of Citizen Kane is best summarized by Charles Higham and Joel Greenberg, who write, "Everything American society considers worth striving for - success, riches, power -- is shown as empty, sterile, and meaningless" (109).