The cowboy Sunny Sundown is a character invented by Swede, and the hero of her epic poem. Over the course of his journey, Sunny Sundown transitions from staunch lawman to misunderstood outlaw. He acts as a symbol for Davy and, specifically, how Swede and Reuben view Davy. Until Reuben begins to question the righteousness of Davy's crime, Davy is truly a man of the law in the eyes of his siblings. He honorably shot Tommy and Israel to protect his family, and early excerpts from Swede's poem draw a number of parallels between Sundown and Davy in this regard. When the court doesn't agree that Davy is an honorable man, Davy is pushed to run away and become an outlaw, and Sundown's plot follows a similar path. The end of Sundown's story is particularly illustrative of Swede's unwillingness to accept the reality of Davy's situation. Sundown's story ends with him safely enclosed in a beautiful and impenetrable valley with his lovely and faithful wife. This is far from what Davy's life on the run is actually like, and therefore represents a wishful imagining of what could have been, and, in Swede's mind, what should have been.
Sunny Sundown Quotes in Peace Like a River
"Just because I write it doesn't mean it really happened."
"She wasn't his wife!" Swede flared. Past tense, you notice—history, even the fictive kind, being beyond our influence.