Peace Like a River

Valdez Symbol Icon

Valdez is a bandit king from Swede's epic poem. As Sunny Sundown’s adversary, he first appears as a greasy villain: obviously evil, but also sure to lose to Sundown. Following Swede's kidnapping by Tommy and Israel, however, Valdez takes a horrifying turn for the worse and transforms into a bloodthirsty monster. Through Valdez, Swede processes her fear and grapples with the unfortunate realization that bad people don't just exist in stories. Interestingly, while Swede never comes close to matching Reuben's maturity and understanding of Davy's actions, Swede reaches her own surprisingly mature conclusions about evil and justice through writing about Valdez. Sundown isn't ever able to capture and properly kill Valdez, despite how hard Swede tries to write the event. Valdez thus comes to represent Swede's uncertainty and fear that the world doesn't always observe an easy and obvious system of justice. Reuben even compares Jape Waltzer to Valdez, as Waltzer slips away after shooting Reuben and Dad and never appears again. Like Valdez, he's a horrifying yet compelling villain, and his innocent victims are left to deal with the knowledge that he's never brought to justice for his actions.

Valdez Quotes in Peace Like a River

The Peace Like a River quotes below all refer to the symbol of Valdez. 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:
Youth vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Atlantic edition of Peace Like a River published in 2002.
Peeking at Eternity Quotes

"Just because I write it doesn't mean it really happened."

Related Characters: Swede Land (speaker), Reuben Land
Related Symbols: Sunny Sundown, Valdez
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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At War with This Whole World Quotes

I feared the outcome of honest speech—that it might reach forward in time and arrange events to come. If I told Swede I wanted Davy back, even at the cost of his freedom, might that not happen? And if I said what I sensed was the noble thing... might that not bring despair on this whole crusade of ours?

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Swede Land, Davy Land
Related Symbols: Valdez
Page Number: 152
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Valdez Symbol Timeline in Peace Like a River

The timeline below shows where the symbol Valdez appears in Peace Like a River. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Your Toughened Heart
Youth vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Fiction, Reality, and the American West Theme Icon
...poem Swede has been working on, in which Sunny Sundown prepares to destroy his adversary, Valdez. At home, Davy is in the garage working on a secret. Swede, alone in the... (full context)
Youth vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Fiction, Reality, and the American West Theme Icon
...doll. Later that night, Swede is hard at work in her notebook, presumably killing off Valdez. (full context)
Peeking at Eternity
Fiction, Reality, and the American West Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
...been in her room because she can't figure out how to make Sunny Sundown kill Valdez. Reuben explains to the reader that after Swede's abduction, Valdez had transformed from a scrawny... (full context)
Fiction, Reality, and the American West Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
Swede reads Reuben several options for Valdez's death. Reuben thinks they sound fine, but Swede insists that just because she writes something... (full context)
A Boy on a Horse
Fiction, Reality, and the American West Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
Reuben asks Swede what happened to Valdez. Tears well up in Swede's eyes as she admits that she couldn't write Sunny's victory... (full context)
The Substance of Things Hoped For
Fiction, Reality, and the American West Theme Icon
Loyalty and Family Theme Icon
...Birdie's house late in the afternoon. Their arrival rouses Reuben from a nightmare in which Valdez had crawled into Reuben's bunk with him, but Reuben was unable to tell anyone. He... (full context)
The Red Farm
Fiction, Reality, and the American West Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
...Sundown poetry. She reads the entire poem out loud, and Davy listens attentively. He deems Valdez a perfect villain and likely uncatchable. At dawn, Roxanna makes her uncle's cinnamon rolls and... (full context)
The Curious Music That I Hear
Youth vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
Jape Waltzer was never caught, much like Valdez. Davy eventually tells Reuben that Waltzer bludgeoned Andreeson and rolled the body into the lignite... (full context)