Private Peaceful

by

Michael Morpurgo

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Charlie is Tommo and Big Joe’s brother, Mrs. Peaceful’s son, and Molly’s eventual husband. He is presented as a fiercely loyal and brave figure throughout the novel. He consistently sticks up for Tommo and those he cares about, and always does what’s right. He defends Tommo from bullies at school, and later in the war he again defends Tommo against the terrible Sergeant Hanley. Tommo is often inspired by Charlie’s bravery, and signs up to fight in the war because Charlie does. Ultimately, however, Charlie pays the price for his loyalty and bravery when he is executed for refusing to obey Hanley’s suicidal orders, which would have meant abandoning a gravely injured Tommo on the battlefield for a pointless mission. Hanley hated Charlie from the first time they met, because Charlie wasn’t afraid to stand up to Hanley, and Hanley couldn’t handle this threat to his authority. By contrast, Charlie is very loyal to his second commander, Captain Wilkes, because Wilkes is respectful and kind to his men. Charlie ends up bravely rescuing Wilkes when he is injured, and Wilkes leaves him his golden watch as a thank you. He also remains loyal in his love for Molly, sticking by her and marrying her when she falls pregnant, even when Molly’s mother and Molly’s father reject her. Charlie is briefly injured during the war, meaning that he gets sent back to England for a little while (much to Tommo’s chagrin, as he has to remain in France) and manages to meet his newborn baby, Little Tommo. He only meets his child once, however, as Charlie is killed shortly afterwards. Charlie is always poised and dignified, even in the face of fear. He accepts punishment with his head held high, and even as he is executed he keeps a smile on his face. His bravery inspires Tommo to survive the war and to take courage himself.

Charlie Peaceful Quotes in Private Peaceful

The Private Peaceful quotes below are all either spoken by Charlie Peaceful or refer to Charlie Peaceful . 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:
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of Private Peaceful published in 2003.
Chapter 1 Quotes

A swallow swoops over our heads all through the prayers, all through the hymns, flitting from window to window, from the belfry to the altar, looking for some way out. And I know for certain it is Father trying to escape. I know it because he told us more than once that in his next life he’d like to be a bird, so he could fly free wherever he wanted.

Related Symbols: Birds
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

Big Jimmy gets it first, and he keeps crying out: “Ow, sir! Ow, sir! Ow, sir!” But when it’s Charlie’s turn, all we hear are the whacks, and then the silences in between. I am so proud of him for that. I have the bravest brother in the world.

Related Characters: Thomas “Tommo” Peaceful (speaker), Jimmy Parsons (speaker), Charlie Peaceful , Mr. Munnings
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

“He wouldn’t do that, Moll. It’s just a threat,” Charlie said. “He can’t do it. He just can’t.”

“He would,” Molly replied, “and he can. You know he can. And when the Colonel gets it into his head to do something, and he’s in the mood to do it, he will. Look what he did to Bertha. He means it, Charlie.”

Related Characters: Charlie Peaceful (speaker), Molly (speaker), The Colonel
Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

I feel a surge of triumph welling inside me, not because we have won, but because I have stood with the others. I have not run.

Y’aint a coward, are you?”

No, old woman, I am not. I am not.

Related Characters: Thomas “Tommo” Peaceful (speaker), Charlie Peaceful
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

“The whole court martial took less than an hour, Tommo. That’s all they gave me. An hour for a man’s life. Not a lot, is it? And do you know what the brigadier said, Tommo? He said I was a worthless man. Worthless. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, Tommo, but none of them ever upset me, except that one. I didn’t show it, mind. I wouldn’t have given them the satisfaction.”

Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

It is the moment. I have to do it now. It is my last chance. I tell him about how Father had died, about how it had happened, what I had done, how I should have told him years ago, but had never dared to. He smiles. “I always knew that, Tommo. So did Mother. You’d talk in your sleep. Always having nightmares, always keeping me awake about it, you were. All nonsense. Not your fault. It was the tree that killed Father, Tommo, not you.”

Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

They tell me he walked out with a smile on his face as if he were going for an early-morning stroll. They tell me that he refused the hood, and that they thought he was singing when he died.

Related Characters: Thomas “Tommo” Peaceful (speaker), Charlie Peaceful
Related Symbols: “Oranges and Lemons”
Page Number: 194-195
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Private Peaceful LitChart as a printable PDF.
Private Peaceful PDF

Charlie Peaceful Character Timeline in Private Peaceful

The timeline below shows where the character Charlie Peaceful appears in Private Peaceful. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Five Past Ten
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
Many years earlier, when Tommo is about five years old, Charlie (Tommo’s brother) is walking Tommo to school for the first time. Tommo is dreading going... (full context)
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 Big Joe (Tommo and Charlie’s other brother) has never had to go to school, which Tommo thinks is very unfair,... (full context)
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Charlie offers Tommo a piggyback ride to make him feel better. Charlie always understands when Tommo... (full context)
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Back on the journey to school, Charlie tells Tommo that the first day of school will be tough, but in general school... (full context)
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...children are ushered into their respective classes, with Tommo in the younger “Tiddlers” class and Charlie in the older “Bigguns” class. When he is separated from his brother, Tommo feels “truly... (full context)
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
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At the funeral, Tommo, his mother, Big Joe and Charlie sit on the front row. Their father’s coffin is placed in front of them. A... (full context)
Chapter 2: Twenty to Eleven
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Tommo recalls one evening when the three boys, Charlie, Tommo, and Big Joe, had just gone fishing and were walking home afterward. The Colonel... (full context)
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...which Tommo has tried to start a fight Jimmy. Tommo is losing the fight, but Charlie swoops in and grabs Jimmy Parsons and starts fighting him instead. Mr. Munnings finds Charlie... (full context)
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...on, Molly practically becomes one of the Peaceful family. She comes home with Tommo and Charlie nearly every day after school, and it seems like she never wants to go home.... (full context)
Chapter 3: Nearly Quarter Past Eleven
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...no income, given that Mrs. Peaceful is no longer working. Everyone is getting hungry, so Charlie, Molly, and Tommo decide to go poaching on the Colonel’s land. It is Charlie’s idea,... (full context)
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Tommo, Charlie and Molly often roam the countryside after school. They swim and race through the fields,... (full context)
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One day, Molly and Charlie take off all their clothes and go swimming together, but Tommo feels too embarrassed to... (full context)
Chapter 4: Ten to Midnight
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One evening, Charlie and Tommo go poaching, but they have to go without Molly, as she is still... (full context)
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Charlie and Tommo return home and tell their mother everything, to which she promises that the... (full context)
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Again, Tommo starts feeling left out with Charlie and Molly, because they are outgrowing him. Molly moves up to Charlie’s older class at... (full context)
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...seems different, “more like a little mother to [him] than a friend.” All Molly and Charlie talk about now is the Big House, and Tommo realizes that he is no longer... (full context)
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Tommo recalls one rare occasion when he felt like a “threesome” with Molly and Charlie again. The three have just been fishing in a field, when suddenly they hear an... (full context)
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...looking Mr. Munnings “in the eye” and staring him down defiantly. He longs to tell Charlie about his little victory, but feels like Charlie doesn’t care about anything that happens at... (full context)
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That night, Charlie tells Tommo that he’s in big trouble. He has stolen Bertha the dog, because the... (full context)
Chapter 5: Twenty-Four Minutes Past Twelve
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Charlie wakes up the next morning, insistent that he won’t tell the Colonel of Bertha’s whereabouts,... (full context)
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Charlie shows his family where Bertha is hidden, and the dog immediately takes a liking to... (full context)
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Charlie eventually finds a new job at Farmer Cox’s farm, which is just past the village.... (full context)
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Charlie keeps trying to see Molly. He visits her cottage, but Molly’s parents won’t even answer... (full context)
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...tells him the whole story about how the Colonel came to their cottage and called Charlie a thief, and told Molly’s father that they shouldn’t let Molly see Charlie anymore. She... (full context)
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Tommo gives Molly the letter, which she opens, and tells Tommo to say “yes” to Charlie in response. Suddenly she looks excited again, and she kisses Tommo quickly and says goodbye. (full context)
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Over the next few months, Tommo delivers dozens of letters between Molly and Charlie, which he doesn’t mind as it means he gets to see Molly frequently again. During... (full context)
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...and his mother arranges for him to go and work on Farmer Cox’s farm with Charlie. Tommo is much happier; he gets to see more of Charlie, and Charlie no longer... (full context)
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One day, Tommo and Charlie return home to find Molly and Molly’s mother waiting for them at their house. Molly... (full context)
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Tommo is so angry and hurt at the news that he doesn’t speak to Charlie all night, at least until Charlie admits to him that he should have told him... (full context)
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...He has killed her. The Colonel is standing outside Mr. Peaceful’s disused shack, from which Charlie and Molly have now emerged together. Molly screams at the Colonel, asking him in horrified... (full context)
Chapter 6: Nearly Five to One
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Everyone races to the church tower. Charlie falls over, so Tommo goes up first, and eventually reaches the top of the stairs,... (full context)
Chapter 7: Twenty-Eight Minutes Past One
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 On an evening a few weeks later, Tommo and Charlie come home from work to find Molly crying in their house, being comforted by the... (full context)
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Charlie and Molly are married shortly afterwards in the village church, although only the close family... (full context)
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Tommo finds that he avoids spending time with both Charlie and Molly after the wedding, as he no longer knows what to say to them.... (full context)
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...his family immediately dismiss his ambitions before he’s even had a chance to voice them. Charlie offhandedly criticizes the enlisting soldiers, pointing out that he’s “never even met” a German, so... (full context)
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...able man on his estate should enlist for war. More specifically, he has decided that Charlie must enlist, otherwise he will evict the Peacefuls from their cottage, and fire Molly and... (full context)
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Charlie accepts his fate, saying that he’s been feeling guilty about not enlisting recently anyway. Tommo... (full context)
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...supposes it was a mixture of things: partly that he couldn’t stand being apart from Charlie, and partly the “spark” of patriotism ignited within him by the marching band. But most... (full context)
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Only two days later, Charlie and Tommo leave for the war. Charlie thanks Tommo for coming with him as they... (full context)
Chapter 8: Fourteen Minutes Past Two
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 Tommo looks closely at his watch. Charlie once told him that it was a “wonderful watch,” but Tommo doesn’t think it is;... (full context)
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Tommo and Charlie meet Sergeant “Horrible” Hanley at their training camp in France. Hanley “ha[s] it in for... (full context)
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Tommo remembers when he enlisted with Charlie. He stood up tall, trying to pass for seventeen, and Charlie introduced them as twins.... (full context)
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After enlisting, Tommo and Charlie are sent to an initial training camp at Salisbury Plain in England, where they are... (full context)
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...ship for France, “the good times ended.” Even the journey is hellish, as Tommo and Charlie and most of the others are struck with violent seasickness. As they finally get off... (full context)
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One day, Hanley tells Charlie that he is a “blot on creation” and then asks him, “what are you?” Charlie... (full context)
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As a result of his profound dislike of Charlie, Hanley starts picking on Tommo, too. By now, everyone in the company knows that Tommo... (full context)
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...he recalls hearing a shout before losing consciousness. When he awakes, he is told that Charlie broke ranks and charged at Hanley, shouting at him and letting him know “exactly what... (full context)
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As punishment, Charlie is ordered to “Field Punishment Number One,” which means being tied to a gun wheel... (full context)
Chapter 9: A Minute Past Three
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
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...front line in Belgium, the boys become almost cheery from the singing. Soon Tommo and Charlie start singing “Oranges and Lemons,” and everyone else joins in. Tommo can’t believe the contrast... (full context)
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Captain Wilkes and Charlie also help to keep morale up with their positive attitudes, and Tommo claims that there... (full context)
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Tommo’s turn for patrol comes, and he is slated to go with Charlie, Nipper Martin, Pete, Little Les, and Captain “Wilkie” Wilkes. Tommo finds he is “not so... (full context)
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...further up a slope, and tells the boys that he can’t move his legs, so Charlie carefully drags Wilkie into the crater for protection. When the shelling stops, Charlie carries Wilkie... (full context)
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Tommo and Charlie go to see Wilkie at the hospital. Wilkie has already been transported back to Britain... (full context)
Chapter 10: Twenty-Five Past Three
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...the bombardment stops, Tommo sees the enemy approaching in the thousands, with their “bayonets glinting.” Charlie reassures Tommo that Tommo will be fine, and to stay with him. Tommo does “not... (full context)
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
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Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
...German shells flashes in the air, starting their surprise counter-attack. Tommo looks frantically around for Charlie but can’t see him. Tommo flattens himself into the mud for protection, and is deafened... (full context)
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Hours pass, and still Charlie does not return to the dugout. Tommo tries to reassure himself, hoping that maybe Charlie... (full context)
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Tommo goes on sentry duty. He thinks about Charlie and his father, and tries to imagine them as stars in the sky. He wishes... (full context)
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Charlie had been shot in the foot, and passed out “in some shell hole.” When he... (full context)
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On the night Charlie leaves for England, Tommo goes to the estaminet and drowns his sorrows and his anger... (full context)
Chapter 11: Nearly Four O’Clock
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After Charlie left, a new batch of recruits joined Tommo’s company. Many of the original company were... (full context)
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
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...has been named Thomas, or Little Tommo, in honor of Tommo. Tommo’s mother adds that Charlie is at home, and has told them all that he and Tommo are having a... (full context)
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
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...soldier is caught sleeping at his post, and receives Field Punishment Number One, just as Charlie had before him. Tommo claims that these were the “darkest days we had ever lived... (full context)
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The next day, the company is sent back into the trenches, and Charlie returns. Everyone feels “suddenly safer” having him back. Hanley on the other hand is not... (full context)
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...At one point, Tommo lies screaming on the ground for it to stop, only for Charlie to lie next to him and start singing “Oranges and Lemons.” Soon, everyone is singing... (full context)
Chapter 12: Five to Five
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...sky, but then realizes that he is buried in earth, and screams. Suddenly he hears Charlie’s distant voice, and then people start digging and manage to pull him free. Tommo finds... (full context)
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
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...the German trenches instead. Everyone knows this is a suicidal order. Tommo concernedly whispers to Charlie that he won’t be able to stand up because he is too injured, and Charlie... (full context)
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Hanley orders everyone to move out of the dugout, and everyone hesitates. Charlie tells Hanley what everyone is thinking: that there is “no point in going out there... (full context)
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...in and out of consciousness in the dugout. At one point, he wakes up to Charlie asking him to promise that Tommo will “look after things” for him if things go... (full context)
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...to the dugout, but barely any of the other soldiers do. Hanley sits glaring at Charlie with “cold hate in his eyes.” Eventually he decides it is time for them to... (full context)
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When Tommo is placed on a stretcher at the trenches, he looks up to see Charlie being arrested on the spot. After this, he says, everything “happened so fast.” Tommo is... (full context)
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Tommo is finally allowed to see Charlie on the day before his execution, but only for twenty minutes. The guard outside apologizes... (full context)
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Charlie describes his court martial to Tommo. Charlie tried to tell the judges the truth, but... (full context)
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Charlie tries to be optimistic about his fate, reminding Tommo that the thought of death is... (full context)
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Tommo finally brings himself to tell Charlie about the guilt he feels for their father’s death. Charlie assures Tommo that it “was... (full context)
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Finally, in their remaining minutes, Tommo assures Charlie that he is not worthless. Then the boys start singing “Oranges and Lemons” together, singing... (full context)
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...smiling, because Sergeant Hanley has been killed. Unfortunately, the news comes too late to help Charlie, but Tommo describes it as a “small consolation.” After the initial news, the regiment becomes... (full context)
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Tommo is stationed at an empty farmhouse close to where they are keeping Charlie. Everyone at the camp tries to support him in the face of Charlie’s death, even... (full context)
Chapter 13: One Minute to Six
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Tommo imagines Charlie as he is led to his execution. “He is not stumbling. He is not struggling.... (full context)
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Tommo hears the shot, and feels that part of him has died with Charlie. However, as he turns back to camp he finds he is “far from alone in... (full context)
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Later that afternoon, Tommo goes to collect Charlie’s belongings. The men at the camp tell Tommo that when he was executed, Charlie “walked... (full context)
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Tommo visits Charlie’s grave, and decides that Charlie would like the place where he is buried. It is... (full context)