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Ralph Brentner

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Ralph Brentner is a main character in the novel The Stand.

In the TV miniseries, he is played by Peter van Norden.
Ralph

Peter van Norden as Ralph Brentner in the 1994 TV miniseries.

Character Biography

Ralph is a good-natured farmer from the central midwest; his town of origin is never specified, though in the novel he is referred to as having a "drawling Oklahoma accent" (the miniseries explicitly refers to Ralph being from “Okie City”, i.e, Oklahoma City.) 

Only fleeting details are known of Ralph's pre-plague life, and only from offhand comments he makes. He is an Army veteran, and was formerly married (it is not specified whether his wife died in the plague.) At the time of the superflu outbreak he is forty-five years of age.

Ralph wears a trademark straw hat, with a blue velvet band and a feather stuck in it.

Two days after their brush with Julie Lawry, Ralph encounters Nick Andros and Tom Cullen cycling on US highway 281 near Great Bend, Kansas. He offers them a ride in his battered Chevy pickup, and they become the first group to reach Mother Abagail in Hemingford Home, Nebraska.

Ralph begins to serve as Nick’s "voice", reading his handwritten notes aloud for the benefit of the other survivors.

Ralph also becomes especially close with Mother Abagail, and holds her in quasi-religious awe. For her part, Abagail is extremely fond of Ralph, and shrewdly assesses his character: Ralph is someone who probably struggled to get by in the pre-plague world, lacking business savvy and possessing a checkered work-history. But in a crisis his practical wisdom is invaluable, and he is not afraid to "think outside the box".

Although Ralph does not consider himself a smart man, he is extremely capable with hands-on knowledge and problem solving. It is Ralph's idea to pick up a C .B. unit in Columbus, Nebraska, and later to set up a radio transmitter in Boulder Colorado — in both cases, to act as a beacon for other plague survivors. When Ralph begins using the call-sign "Boulder Free Zone" for his radio broadcasts, the name is eventually adopted by the growing community in Boulder.

In the days before the electricity is turned back on, it is also Ralph's suggestion to locate an old-fashioned, hand-cranked mimeograph machine to print flyers for the Boulder's first public meeting. At the meeting, Ralph is elected to the Boulder Free Zone Committee.

The house Ralph shares with Nick Andros is destroyed by Harold Lauder’s bomb. He survives the assassination attempt, but the explosion costs him the third and fourth fingers on his left hand.

Ralph is chosen as one of the four to stand against Randall Flagg in Las Vegas, along with fellow committee members Stu Redman, Larry Underwood and Glen Bateman. After travelling nearly four hundred miles on foot, he gets captured by Flagg's men just west of Fremont Junction, Utah.

Brought before Flagg in downtown Las Vegas, Ralph and Larry are scheduled for a public execution by dismemberment. The execution is interrupted when the Trashcan Man arrives, hauling a nuclear warhead out of the desert and into the assembled crowd.

The "hand of God" detonates the weapon, destroying Las Vegas and vaporizing everyone at ground zero, including Ralph and Larry.

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