It’s hard to deny just how large a role Dutch van der Linde plays in the first Red Dead Redemption. Despite only appearing for a handful of missions, he leaves quite the impact. It certainly helps that John starts bringing Dutch up long before Mr. van der Linde himself actually gets a chance to appear. By the time players reach the West Elizabeth arc, it’s quite clear that Dutch —the legend who raised John— is actually just another man. He is almost otherworldly in his humanity, but only in how he deconstructs the illusion of the cultist image John painted of him.
There is nothing redeeming about Dutch van der Linde. At least in that first game. Red Dead Redemption II paints a far prettier picture of Dutch, albeit not without his own complexities. This is a Dutch supposedly before insanity. He is on the cusp of losing his mind, but he hasn’t quite lost it yet. As a result, he comes off all the more dynamic. In many ways, it’s even harder to understand who he now is, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Dutch is a complex man, but that makes him far more interesting in a way.
24 The Hypocrisy Of Dutch Van Der Linde
At his core, Dutch van der Linde is a hypocrite. He can be boiled down into many roles- antagonist, leader, hero, cultist, outlaw, realist, anarchist- but he is ultimately a man consumed by his own inability to stay consistent. Every ideal Dutch preaches, he ends up breaking in some way.
There is no "real" Dutch.
He is a man who calls for peace for the downtrodden and the defeated, but he actively attacks those who stand in his path towards power. He is a man who cares not for the value of money, yet bases all his decisions around ensuring financial stability. Dutch is a man devoid of ideology.
23 Dutch Uses A Semi-Auto Pistol
The first game actually shows Dutch’s hypocrisy outright when John ends up confronting him at the end of the West Elizabeth arc. Despite preaching freedom and a purity —a return to the long lost days of the mythical Wild West— Dutch’s firearm of choice is the incredibly modern Semi-Automatic Pistol.
To put this into perspective, Edgar Ross, the game’s representation of the modern age, uses an old fashioned repeater. Dutch is incapable of allowing himself any sort of disadvantage even if it means adhering to his core philosophies. He’d rather protect himself than stay true to any sort of ideals.
22 Dutch Lost His Father In The Battle Of Gettysburg
Narratively, the wound of the Civil War is still relatively fresh during Red Dead Redemption II. Arthur can often interact with Civil War veterans on the side of the road, even donating to them should he be in need of some quick, easy honor. Needless to say, it’s one of the few reminders of the Civil War media.
Only Dutch would martyr his own father.
Interestingly, later chapters in the game strongly suggest that Dutch lost his far in the Civil War. Specifically, it’s implied that Dutch lost him in the Battle of Gettysburg. Despite not being a particularly familial person, Dutch uses this as a form of motivation during the third chapter, albeit not in good faith.
21 The GTA IV Connection
During Chapter 3 of the second game’s story, Dutch introduces himself as “Aiden O’Malley,” a pseudonym he makes up on the fly primarily to hide his identity. Considering how well known his gang is and the fact that the Pinkertons are hot on their trail starting with Chapter 2. An alias is only natural.
Interestingly, Aiden O’Malley is also the name of one of Niko Bellic’s supporting players in Grand Theft Auto IV. This isn’t the first time Rockstar’s franchises have reference each other, either. GTA V features a book titled “Red Dead” written by a certain “J. Marston.” Perhaps Jack wound up a writer after all.
20 You Can Find Dutch’s Mother’s Grave In Blackwater
Dutch is not a particularly familial person in spite of the show he puts on for his gang mates. While he does preach about family, and it is implied he does genuinely see themselves as a family, he rarely, if ever, divulges any personal information. He mentions his father, but seldom his mother.
Did Dutch love his mother?
Should you return to Blackwater during the course of the game, feel free to visit the Blackwater Cemetery. You can even read the tombstones. Should you desire to do so, you’ll find the grave of a Mrs. van der Linde. Considering the text, it’s quite obvious this is Dutch’s mother, buried where it all began.
19 Dutch Always Had Enough Money
Dutch’s rallying crime for the entirety of the second game is an incessant desire for money. Every single chapter involves Dutch concocting some scheme so the gang can raise enough money to travel in one of the world’s many directions. The problem is that Dutch clearly had money all along.
At the end of the game, John finds a treasure chest filled with $60,000. This couldn’t have been built up over just the Epilogue. It’s obvious that Dutch was putting money away in secret all along. It’s even entirely possible that most of this money is actually related to the believed lost Blackwater stash.
18 “Favored Sons” Parallels With “And The Truth Will Set You Free”
Arguably Red Dead Redemption II’s greatest strength as a sequel is its ability to comment on the cyclical nature of narrative. Any follow up will sooner or later become derivative of its source material should it play things too close. RDR2 is very similar, but it is aware of said similarities and uses them as a strength.
This is most clearly seen in “Favored Son,” a mission which parallels “And the Truth will Set You Free” from the first game. Both missions feature Dutch making a speech about his inability to “fight nature.” Where the former sees him using it as a boast, the latter shows a sincerity — a genuine belief that he cannot live amongst the natural world any longer.
17 Sadie’s Perspective: A Good Man Turned Bad
The second game’s opening is rather awkward on a surface level. Arthur, Dutch, and Micah save Sadie Adler and then they head back to camp. All these characters are major players, but the narrative takes a while to cement that. In hindsight, this opening is critically important when reflecting on Dutch.
Dutch saved Sadie's life. She can't forget that.
In this mission, Dutch shows Sadie a tender care, wrapping her up in his blanket and giving her a new home. This colors Sadie’s impression of him, causing her to believe that Dutch was indeed a good man at some point before his mind suddenly snapped. It’s easy to believe this train of thought, but John has his own ideas.
16 John’s Perspective: A Bad Man Now Showing It
Where Sadie chooses to see the good in Dutch van der Linde, accepting that he was once a legitimately good man with a kind heart, John recontextualizes his feelings for Dutch to color him as a bad man who finally just let his true sideshow. Considering Dutch’s deterioration, there is a bit of truth to it.
After all, Dutch never goes into what happened at Blackwater. What kind of leader would do that unless he had something to hide? Dutch actively leaves John behind and, instead of admitting to it, tries to paint the picture of a hopeless John. Both interpretations are valid in their own right, but John is perhaps right in the end.
15 Dutch Only Cares About Himself
Dutch is a character driven almost exclusively by ego. His family is called “Dutch’s Gang,” after all. Even though he shares the workload with Hosea, Dutch is the face and name of the gang. He distances himself from the action unless he knows he’s well guarded and almost every action in the game can be interpreted as self-preservation first and foremost.
It's "Dutch's" gang for a reason.
This is best seen in how often Dutch leaves his men behind. During the bank heist, Dutch simply comments that John was imprisoned. Dutch then leaves Arthur behind when fighting the army, refusing to step in despite having a chance. Lastly, Dutch refuses to go back for John in Chapter 6’s final mission, cementing his self-preservation once and for all.
14 What Really Happened At Blackwater
Although the game never gets into what exactly happened in Blackwater- particularly due to neither John or Arthur actually being present for the whole ordeal- we can piece together the main beats thanks to a mix of Arthur’s journal and Dutch’s true nature. It isn’t a particularly flattering picture.
Arthur mentions that Dutch shot a woman in Blackwater. This was likely Dutch’s attempt to create some distance between the gang and Pinkertons. From there, several gang members slowed themselves down and, instead of helping them, Dutch left them behind so that he could escape. Dutch lies about the Blackwater stash and keeps it on him for the whole game.
13 Dutch Never Donates His Own Money To The Camp
As the leader of the gang, it has to be brought into question: should Dutch donate as well? It is genuinely worth discussing as even Hosea’s name can be seen in the ledger, and often at that. Dutch’s name seldom, if ever, actually appears. This is to say nothing of what the gang’s main funds go to.
Why does a boss need to do any work?
One of the first upgrades players end up getting will likely be Dutch’s personal camp. That in itself speaks volumes to Dutch’s true nature. None of his money goes towards the upgraded tent, but he gets it nonetheless. Granted, it actually does inspire others to donate, but they’re already more or less ingrained in a cult by that point.
12 Dutch Is Rockstar’s Most Prominent NPC
Rockstar’s supporting characters are quite interesting. More often than not, they lack actual character arc, but nonetheless end up some of the most compelling characters in the medium. They leave a lasting impression. Who doesn’t love Nigel West Dickens? Most interestingly, they barely appear.
The majority of Rockstar NPCs simply do not appear all too often. They appear for a few missions and then disappear for the rest of the game. Not Dutch, though. Dutch is Rockstar’s most prominent NPC yet, appearing more than any other NPC before him. In many ways, he dominates the narrative.
11 “One More Plan”
Dutch’s entire role in the plot effectively boils down to goading Arthur and the rest of the gang into accepting “one more plan, one last score.” With every Chapter, Dutch promises that “one more big score” will be enough to get the gang out of the states and take them to a tropical island where they can live in peace.
Life with Dutch never ends.
Of course, as anyone can expect, there never is “one last score.” For Dutch, this is just a rallying cry — a means of uniting the gang together so that he can push his agenda. There’s always a plan, there’s always a score. Dutch is cyclical and Arthur realizes that. Most of the gang realize that, but they’re in too deep to leave so they accept “one more plan.”
10 Dutch Is A Worse Leader Than Hosea
Although the gang itself is named after Dutch, Mr. van der Linde is not the sole leader. Rather, he shares that role with Hosea Matthews, Dutch’s right-hand man, and best friend. The two started the gang together in their late twenties/early thirties and have been together ever since. They even raised Arthur together.
The sad part of their partnership is just how uneven it is. When it comes down to it, both men are flawed, but Hosea actually knows how to delegate. He treats others respectfully, moves carefully, and understands his limitations. Dutch pushes his gang with charisma, dwindling their numbers with every score.
9 Dutch Teaches His Followers How To Read
One of Dutch’s most endearing qualities is just how much he seems to care about education. Mind you, this is not education in a privatized sense, but a communal education where everyone works together to better their intelligence. As a lover of literature, Dutch passes on his skills onto his followers.
An active mind is a healthy mind.
Both John and Arthur mention how Dutch taught them how to read. Considering how well the latter writers, Dutch taught Arthur quite a bit of technical skill as well. Strangely, but perhaps not so strangely, Dutch doesn’t teach his female followers how to read. Despite being an intimate member of the gang, he never taught Abigail.
8 Dutch Influenced Javier Most
Javier is easily the most underwritten of the first game’s four chief antagonists. Bill Williamson gets the most screen time; Dutch van der Linde has the most narrative presence; and Edgar Ross thematically represents the hostile, changing locale. Javier, though, is a bit barebones. All we really know is that he took Dutch’s downfall hard.
Come the second game, and we see why Javier was just so affected. Dutch’s philosophy simply struck a chord in Javier. A romantic at heart, Javier was a revolutionary who then was forced to go to North. There, he found a home in Dutch. When Dutch lost his mind, Javier was forced to abandon his ideals and return to a country that abandoned him.
7 Dutch Genuinely Cares… When It’s Convenient
For as downright vile as Dutch is, he does genuinely care about his fellow gang members. When Jack is taken, he sticks his neck out on the line to rescue him; when the O’Driscolls take Arthur, Dutch readies himself for revenge; and when Micah gets captured, Dutch requests Arthur go rescue him.
What Dutch does for "family."
Unfortunately, for as much as Dutch does actually care, he is a man burdened by convenience. He will not help his family members if helping them does not benefit him. When John is imprisoned, Dutch refuses to send for him, requiring Arthur to go behind Dutch’s back. Dutch will not go out of his way if there’s no benefit for him to do so.
6 Dutch Will Martyr Anyone For His Cause
Kieran is one of the more fascinating characters in the game. Introduced incredibly early in the story, Kieran is an O’Driscoll gone rogue who ends up joining Dutch’s gang. For a good few chapters, he’s hazed, belittled, and despised by the rest of the gang. With nobody to care for him, the O’Discrolls find and end him.
This is incredibly important as it goes to show just how far Dutch will go for his cause. Even though nobody cared about Kieran, least of all Dutch, he uses his demise as a means to rally the gang. Kieran, who Dutch hated, becomes a martyr. Dutch van der Linde simply has no shame.
5 Hosea Kept Dutch In Check
Quite frankly, whether you believe Dutch was insane all along or not, there is a good reason why he only starts showing the signs of his madness explicitly after Chapter 4 and it’s not due to Guarma: it’s due to Hosea. In losing Hosea, Dutch lose stability. Hosea was the glue keeping Dutch together.
Dutch is nothing without Hosea.
It only makes sense, after all. Hosea and Dutch started the gang together. For the first four chapters, Hosea is the only making the most elaborate plans while serving as a voice of reason. He has his problems, but who doesn’t when they’re an outlaw? Without Hosea, there is simply no one to keep Dutch in check.
4 Dutch’s Ego Is On View As Early As Chapter 1
On that note, while it isn’t until Chapter 4 where Dutch really starts to lose his mind from a narrative perspective, you can see his ego upfront and center from as early as the first Chapter. Even the first mission is quite frankly enough to telegraph that Dutch’s gang is run entirely off of his ego.
Think about it, who do you really get a sense for in that first mission? Dutch. Why? Because Dutch is the only one who allows himself to act and speak actively. He is the literal face and name of the gang so he represents it. His speech is one driven exclusively by ego, rallying his men under HIS name.
3 Dutch Preys On The Weak
It’s kind of sweet that Dutch took a young Arthur in, isn’t it? With nowhere to go, a 15-year-old Arthur found a home in Dutch van der Linde. Dutch also acted as a paternal figure to Jack in John’s absence, molding his worldview as he could. That’s the same case with Lenny too, actually. And Eagle Flies. And Charles. And Sadie.
Live for Dutch. Fall for Dutch.
Recognizing the pattern? Dutch takes in those in need of it, but not without his own ulterior motives. Everyone Dutch takes in ends up violently loyal precisely because Dutch preys on the weak. Dutch knows these people will “owe” him. He basically dominated Arthur’s life for two decades because of this.
2 Dutch Has Always Been Weak Of Mind
Dutch carries himself with the vigor of a much better, and mentally stronger, man. He certainly sounds smart and is able to think quickly on his feet, but his words are often hollow. How many times does he “educate” Arthur on the world? Early on, it seems as though he means something profound… then you hear it more.
The biggest sign of Dutch’s weak mind is how much of a broken record he is. He does not let his words stand on their own. Dutch is a man who says something profound and then repeats it to the point where it’s clear he doesn’t truly understand what he is preaching. He picks pretty words and weaves them together, but he is shallow all the same.
1 Dutch Loved Arthur To The End
It can be argued that Arthur’s relationship with Dutch is the heart of Red Dead Redemption II. Arthur’s entire arc thrives on Dutch’s presence. It makes Arthur’s fate all the sadder as it is quite clear that Arthur never really lost faith in Dutch as a man. He still cared for him, and Dutch simply walks away.
Father and son. Brothers.
Although it seems as though Dutch never cared about Arthur at all, the Epilogue firmly establishes that Dutch did love Arthur. He was his brother, his son, and he ends up being the one to shoot Micah in the end. John’s quest for revenge is resolved by Arthur’s paternal figure: Dutch. Maybe there is some good in him after all.