Private Peaceful

by

Michael Morpurgo

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The Colonel Character Analysis

One of the novel’s antagonists, the Colonel is a mean-spirited man who owns the grand estate in the village. The Peaceful family live in a cottage he owns (prior to his death, Mr. Peaceful worked for the Colonel), and Mrs. Peaceful, Molly, and Charlie all work for him at some point. He is cruel and spiteful to the Peacefuls, just as he is cruel to everyone else around him. Unfortunately, because of his powerful position, he largely gets away with everything he does. He knows he can force Charlie to enlist in the army, for instance, because he can evict the Peacefuls from their cottage and fire Mrs. Peaceful and Molly from his employment if Charlie should refuse. When Charlie earlier dares to steal the Colonel’s dog, Bertha, the Colonel fires Charlie, and later kills Bertha out of spite. There is nothing the Peacefuls can do about his actions, because he owns their home and supports their livelihoods. He also has a lot of power and influence within the wider community, meaning that at one point he manages to turn Molly’s mother and Molly’s father against Charlie by telling them that Charlie is a thief. Molly is banned from seeing Charlie another as a result, just as the Colonel intended. He is also particularly full of himself: Mrs. Peaceful later reports in a letter that if one were to listen to everything The Colonel says, you’d think “he could win [the] war all by himself.”

The Colonel Quotes in Private Peaceful

The Private Peaceful quotes below are all either spoken by The Colonel or refer to The Colonel . 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 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:
Get the entire Private Peaceful LitChart as a printable PDF.
Private Peaceful PDF

The Colonel Character Timeline in Private Peaceful

The timeline below shows where the character The Colonel appears in Private Peaceful. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Five Past Ten
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
The Colonel steps up to the pulpit to make a speech about Tommo’s father, James Peaceful. During... (full context)
Chapter 2: Twenty to Eleven
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...Charlie, Tommo, and Big Joe, had just gone fishing and were walking home afterward. The Colonel rode by on his horse, and completely ignored Big Joe, who was trying to say... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...is a knock at the door, and Tommo’s mother seems to be expecting it. The Colonel arrives, and asks to talk to Mrs. Peaceful in the garden. The boys eavesdrop as... (full context)
Chapter 3: Nearly Quarter Past Eleven
Courage Theme Icon
...Everyone is getting hungry, so Charlie, Molly, and Tommo decide to go poaching on the Colonel’s land. It is Charlie’s idea, and he knows how to catch fish (and some land... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Eventually the Colonel turns up at the cottage again,  but this time he has good news: because the... (full context)
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
The best news of all is that the Colonel asks Grandma Wolf to go back to work at the “Big House” as a live-in... (full context)
Chapter 4: Ten to Midnight
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...The next thing he knows, a dog is at his face, and old Lambert, the Colonel’s bailiff, is pulling him up and shouting at him. Lambert marches Tommo and Charlie up... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...and Tommo return home and tell their mother everything, to which she promises that the Colonel will not beat the boys, not “over [her] dead body.” She is upset and angry,... (full context)
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
...Tommo is stuck in class, but both Charlie and Molly start working up at the Colonel’s “Big House,” which is where most people from the village work. Molly is an “under-parlor... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...tells Tommo that he’s in big trouble. He has stolen Bertha the dog, because the Colonel said that he was going to shoot her the next day. Apparently, Bertha is too... (full context)
Chapter 5: Twenty-Four Minutes Past Twelve
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
Charlie wakes up the next morning, insistent that he won’t tell the Colonel of Bertha’s whereabouts, no matter what happens. Suddenly there is a knock on the door.... (full context)
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...should have been happy there, as he loved the animals and the freedom from the Colonel. However, Charlie isn’t happy, and neither is Tommo, because Molly has stopped visiting. Mrs. Peaceful... (full context)
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...by the brook. Molly is crying and 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... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...a gunshot “ringing out across the valley.” He races up the path and sees the Colonel standing over a blood-soaked Bertha with a gun in his hand. He has killed her.... (full context)
Chapter 7: Twenty-Eight Minutes Past One
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
...be friends with one another, brought together through their shared relief and joy. Even the Colonel and the “Wolfwoman” (Grandma Wolf) join in, and later give the Peacefuls a lift home... (full context)
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
A few weeks later, the Colonel shows up at the Peaceful cottage again. The boys don’t know what the Colonel has... (full context)