Sula

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Tar Baby Character Analysis

A pale-skinned resident of the Bottom, rumored to be either partly or entirely white. Tar Baby is a depressed, self-hating man, who’s among the first to join Shadrack in “celebration” of National Suicide Day. It’s rumored that Tar Baby has come to the Bottom to drink himself to death. He’s despised by many of the residents of Medallion, both in and outside of the Bottom: the general belief is that a white man shouldn’t be mixing with blacks, whether or not he’s depressed.
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Tar Baby Character Timeline in Sula

The timeline below shows where the character Tar Baby appears in Sula. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1921
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...remembers, Eva had given a name to an adult who was new to the Bottom: Tar Baby . The man was handsome and pale-skinned, and Eva immediately recognized that he was completely... (full context)
1939
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
One afternoon, Sula and Ajax meet, and Ajax mentions the disappearance of Tar Baby . Tar Baby has been arrested for public drunkenness and sent to jail. Ajax went... (full context)
1941
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
...“friends”: people who actually want to join his informal celebration in the street. The deweys, Tar Baby , Valentine, and dozens of other people in the Bottom run out to dance with... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...of the cliff collapses. Dozens of people fall into the water and die: the deweys, Tar Baby , Dessie, Valentine, and some of Ajax’s brothers. Only a few of Shadrack’s followers survive.... (full context)