A Taste of Honey

Peter Smith Character Analysis

A boldly assertive, often vulgar young man, Peter is a car salesman who follows Helen to her new home and convinces her to marry him. He shows little sensitivity to the subtleties of Helen and Jo’s relationship, believing that Jo hates her mother and is a capricious, intolerable young woman. More generally, he shows little understanding of irony and wit, as he proves unable to bear Jo’s ironic attacks. Similarly to Helen, he seems concerned exclusively with his own pleasure, refusing to help Jo financially during her time living alone in the apartment and her pregnancy, while spending his money indiscriminately on presents for Helen and on their drunken outings. His alcoholic tendencies lead him to behave aggressively and insult the people around him, showing little concern for others and treating them with disrespect.

Peter Smith Quotes in A Taste of Honey

The A Taste of Honey quotes below are all either spoken by Peter Smith or refer to Peter Smith. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Press edition of A Taste of Honey published in 1956.
Act 1: Scene 1 Quotes

PETER: Is she always like this?

HELEN: She’s jealous . . .

PETER: That’s something I didn’t bargain for.

HELEN: Can’t bear to see me being affectionate with anybody.

JO: You’ve certainly never been affectionate with me.

PETER: Still, she’s old enough to take care of herself.

Related Characters: Jo (speaker), Helen (speaker), Peter Smith (speaker)
Related Symbols: Engagement Rings
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other A Taste of Honey quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Act 1: Scene 2 Quotes

HELEN: […] There’s two w’s in your future. Work or want, and no Arabian Knight can tell you different. We’re all at the steering wheel of our own destiny. Careering along like drunken drivers. I’m going to get married. [The news is received in silence.] I said, I’m going to get married.

JO: Yes, I heard you the first time. What do you want me to do, laugh and throw pennies?

Related Characters: Jo (speaker), Helen (speaker), Peter Smith
Related Symbols: Engagement Rings
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

HELEN: There’s plenty of food in the kitchen.

JO: You should prepare my meals like a proper mother.

HELEN: Have I ever laid claim to being a proper mother? If you’re too idle to cook your own meals you’ll just have to cut food out of your diet altogether. That should help you lose a bit of weight, if nothing else.

PETER: She already looks like a bad case of malnutrition.

Related Characters: Jo (speaker), Helen (speaker), Peter Smith (speaker)
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

HELEN: You stupid little devil! What sort of a wife do you think you’d make? You’re useless. It takes you all your time to look after yourself. I suppose you think you’re in love. Anybody can fall in love, do you know that? But what do you know about the rest of it?

JO: Ask yourself.

HELEN: You know where that ring should be? In the ashcan with everything else. Oh! I could kill her, I could really.

JO: You don’t half knock me about. I hope you suffer for it.

HELEN: I’ve done my share of suffering if I never do any more. Oh Jo, you're only a kid. Why don’t you learn from my mistakes? It takes half your life to learn from your own.

Related Characters: Jo (speaker), Helen (speaker), Peter Smith, Jimmie (“The Boy”)
Related Symbols: Engagement Rings
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

HELEN: I don’t suppose you’re sorry to see me go.

JO: I’m not sorry and I’m not glad.

HELEN: You don’t know what you do want.

JO: Yes, I do. I’ve always known what I want.

HELEN: And when it comes your way will you recognize it?

JO: Good luck, Helen.

Related Characters: Jo (speaker), Helen (speaker), Peter Smith
Related Symbols: Engagement Rings
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Act 2: Scene 2 Quotes

JO: So we’re back where we started. And all those months you stayed away from me because of him! Just like when I was small.

HELEN: I never thought about you! It’s a funny thing, I never have done when I’ve been happy. But these last few weeks I’ve known I should be with you.

JO: So you stayed away.

HELEN: Yes. I can’t stand trouble.

JO: Oh, there’s no trouble. I’ve been performing a perfectly normal, healthy function. We’re wonderful! Do you know, for the first time in my life I feel really important. I feel as though I could take care of the whole world. I even feel as though I could take care of you, too!

Related Characters: Jo (speaker), Helen (speaker), Peter Smith, Geoffrey Ingram
Related Symbols: Engagement Rings
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire A Taste of Honey LitChart as a printable PDF.
A taste of honey.pdf.medium

Peter Smith Character Timeline in A Taste of Honey

The timeline below shows where the character Peter Smith appears in A Taste of Honey. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1: Scene 1
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Peter suddenly walks in, boldly, with a cigar in his mouth. Helen is surprised to see... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Race Theme Icon
Full of underlying anger, Jo tells Peter that Helen must never have mentioned to him that she had a daughter. While both... (full context)
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
When Peter notices that Helen’s nose is damp, he gives her a tissue to blow her nose... (full context)
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Race Theme Icon
Finally, Peter nonchalantly asks Helen to marry him. Surprised, Helen tells him she is too old for... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
...presence heard. She interrupts their conversation by sitting down and thus keeping them from talking. Peter complains about Jo’s attitude and Helen says she is jealous because she doesn’t like seeing... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Jo says that Helen should be in bed and asks if Peter is going to leave. Helen decides that he should indeed avoid catching her cold and,... (full context)
Act 1: Scene 2
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Peter then enters the apartment with a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates. While... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Peter criticizes the way Jo is devouring all her chocolates, and Jo in turn tells him... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Race Theme Icon
Peter and Helen then announce that they are celebrating the fact that Peter has bought a... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Believing that Peter might be hiding something, Jo notices that Peter has other pictures in his wallet and... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Jo then asks Peter why he wears an eye patch. Peter explains that he lost an eye serving as... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Jo asks him why he is marrying Helen and Peter asks her why he shouldn’t, to which Jo gives him a frustrated, obscure answer about... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Peter, who has by now become impatient, is about to tell Helen he will wait for... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Jo asks Helen why she is marrying Peter, and Helen says that it has to do with his money. As the two of... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
When Helen and Peter say they are hungry, Jo, trying to remind her mother of her responsibilities, says that... (full context)
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Race Theme Icon
...heavy cold, walks in in her pajamas. Helen tells Jo that she is excited because Peter has been spending a lot of money on her and has been giving her gifts.... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
...that she will see Jo after the honeymoon. As Helen is about to go meet Peter, she says that Jo must not be sad to see her leave, but Jo says... (full context)
Act 2: Scene 1
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Peter then enters the apartment, drunk, aggressive, and angry at having to wait for Helen outside... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Still singing, Peter goes into the kitchen to look for drinks, crashes into objects, and re-enters the room.... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Helen calls Peter a drunkard and tells him to leave. When Peter notices that Helen is giving his... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Jo chats with her mother about Peter’s state, asking her how long he has been like this, but Helen changes the subject... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Peter then enters the apartment again, more sober but also more hostile. Helen keeps offering to... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Race Theme Icon
Rebellion and Independence Theme Icon
...Geof to shut up, arguing that she knows what is best for her daughter. Impatient, Peter complains about the filth of this apartment and says he wants to leave, adding that,... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Race Theme Icon
Rebellion and Independence Theme Icon
After Peter and Helen leave, Geof is at least relieved that Helen has left Jo money but... (full context)
Act 2: Scene 2
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Rebellion and Independence Theme Icon
Adversity and Resilience Theme Icon
Jo asks Helen to stop being mean to Geof and inquires whether Peter has kicked her out. Instead of answering, Helen tries to change the subject, showing Jo... (full context)
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Race Theme Icon
Rebellion and Independence Theme Icon
Adversity and Resilience Theme Icon
Helen finally reveals that Peter left her for another woman, and Jo cannot believe that the two of them are... (full context)