In the movie Citizen Kane, what is the significance of rosebud? Or is its insignificance a significance? Or has the director achieved what might sound similar to John Travolta's misdirection in the movie Swordfish?


4 Answers 4


From Mr. Welles himself:

The most basic of all ideas was that of a search for the true significance of the man’s apparently meaningless dying words. Kane was raised without a family. He was snatched from his mother’s arms in early childhood. His parents were a bank. From the point of view of the psychologist, my character had never made what is known as “transference” from his mother. Hence his failure with his wives. In making this clear during the course of the picture, it was my attempt to lead the thoughts of my audience closer and closer to the solution of the enigma of his dying words. These were “Rosebud.” The device of the picture calls for a newspaperman (who didn’t know Kane) to interview people who knew him very well. None had ever heard of “Rosebud.” Actually, as it turns out, “Rosebud” is the trade name of a cheap little sled on which Kane was playing on the day he was taken away from his home and his mother. In his subconscious it represented the simplicity, the comfort, above all the lack of responsibility in his home, and also it stood for his mother’s love which Kane never lost.

source (the rest of the article is an interesting read in itself)

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekhov%27s_gun Citizen Kane introduced "Rosebud" early in the film both as a minor prop and as the major plot focus only to reveal what "Rosebud" really meant in the last scene.
    – pramodc84
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 12:15
  • +1 For answering a tripple question with this single post: What is rose bud?, Does it have significance? and Why?
    – NGLN
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 21:39
  • @NGLN, now if he could only explain how the reporter knew to research Kane's dying words when Kane died alone, that would be worth more than a +1
    – Kevin
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 20:43

Rosebud was a sled.

I will never forget watching this movie (an epic in every sense of the word) in a high school film class way back when in the 1980s. Our teacher explained, in a sentence, that Rosebud stood for the innocence that Kane had taken from him. He wasn’t able to enjoy a childhood like most children do, and Rosebud represented his lost youth.


He mentioned rosebud three times... The only three times he didn't get what he wanted. After being torn from his mother, he had the original rosebud moment. He swore he would be in control of his actions from then on, and was always in control of what happened from then on, even in the world. Thus the newspaper. Even when blackmailed by the boss, he made his own choice, and when he finished Leland's article, it was his own free will. Then, when Susan left him it was, as Susan mentioned, the first thing she had done that he hadn't planned. He went into a frenzy and uttered rosebud, because he had failed to follow his promise to be in control. Finally, when death took him, he wasn't ready to die, and uttered rosebud again. Like his palace Xanadu, his life was always being built (promises, declaration of principles), but never finished. And then it ended. His story is of a man who always needed to be in control.


Rosebud looks like heart after every material gain in life he learnt happiness and love is only essesence of human existence not money remember what girl said? You want me to love you don't you? With or without money man have been pursuit of only happiness and being loved

  • 1
    Hello and welcome to the Stack Exchange. Quick note: this was already answered over two years ago with a quote from the man who directed, co-wrote, produced and starred. Orson Welles explained everything. I suggest checking out the Tour to get a better idea of how to ask and answer questions. We're not a typical discussion forum. Don't be discouraged, we were all new here at some point. Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 19:50

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