Giovanni’s Room


James Baldwin

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Giovanni’s Room can help.

Sue Character Analysis

Sue is an American woman living in Paris. Although she doesn’t run in the same circles as David, he’s familiar enough with her to know that he would never find her attractive. Nevertheless, he decides to have sex with her after learning that Hella will soon be returning to Paris, hoping that this will help him move on from his relationship with Giovanni and reacquaint him with a woman’s touch. However, he realizes that this is a bad idea once they actually start having sex, but there’s nothing he can do to back out of the situation, since he had to persuade Sue to invite him to her apartment in the first place. And though he hates having sex with her, Sue herself comes to enjoy the experience, even asking him if they can go out to dinner afterwards. Not wanting to spend more time with her, David makes up an excuse and quickly leaves, telling her that he doesn’t like to make plans. In response, Sue sadly tells him that he can visit her if he ever becomes lonely again, indicating that she understands that he used her for sex but is willing to put herself through the experience again.

Sue Quotes in Giovanni’s Room

The Giovanni’s Room quotes below are all either spoken by Sue or refer to Sue. 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:
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Gardners Books edition of Giovanni’s Room published in 2001.
Part 2: Chapter 2 Quotes

Again, some­where at the bottom of me, I realized that my fears had been excessive and groundless and, in effect, a lie: it became clearer every instant that what I had been afraid of had nothing to do with my body. Sue was not Hella and she did not lessen my terror of what would happen when Hella came: she increased it, she made it more real than it had been before.

Related Characters: David (speaker), Giovanni, Hella, Sue
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

Yet it was true, I recalled, turning away from the river down the long street home, I wanted children. I wanted to be inside again, with the light and safety, with my manhood unquestioned, watching my woman put my children to bed. I wanted the same bed at night and the same arms and I wanted to rise in the morning, knowing where I was. I wanted a woman to be for me a steady ground, like the earth itself, where I could always be renewed.

Related Characters: David (speaker), Giovanni, Hella, Sue
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Giovanni’s Room LitChart as a printable PDF.
Giovanni’s Room PDF

Sue Character Timeline in Giovanni’s Room

The timeline below shows where the character Sue appears in Giovanni’s Room. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: Chapter 2
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon
...pass on the street and waits for someone he knows, finally recognizing a woman named Sue. David doesn’t find Sue attractive, but he eagerly invites her to have a drink and... (full context)
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon
Travel, Identity, and Emotional Escape Theme Icon
David tells Sue that she should invite him over for a drink, and though she refuses at first,... (full context)
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon
Money, Sex, and Exploitation Theme Icon
After having sex, David and Sue lie in silence for a long while, though David itches to leave. As he dresses,... (full context)