Private Peaceful

by

Michael Morpurgo

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Mr. Peaceful is Tommo, Charlie, and Big Joe’s father, who is tragically killed in an accident when Tommo is a young boy. Not much is revealed about Mr. Peaceful, but he was a woodchopper and died as he saved Tommo from a falling tree in the forest, which ended up crushing him instead. Due to the positioning of his body when he died, it seemed as though Mr. Peaceful’s finger was pointed directly at Tommo, as if blaming Tommo for his death. Tommo certainly interprets it in this way, and blames himself for his father’s death until the very end of the novel, when Charlie reassures him that it wasn’t his fault and dismisses his guilt as “nonsense.” It is also revealed that Mr. Peaceful loved birds, and every time Tommo sees a bird throughout the story he is reminded of his father.

Tommo’s Father / Mr. Peaceful Quotes in Private Peaceful

The Private Peaceful quotes below are all either spoken by Tommo’s Father / Mr. Peaceful or refer to Tommo’s Father / Mr. 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

He is on his back, his face turned away from me as if he doesn’t want me to see. One arm is outstretched towards me, his glove fallen off, his finger pointing at me.

Page Number: 9-10
Explanation and Analysis:

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 12 Quotes

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:
Get the entire Private Peaceful LitChart as a printable PDF.
Private Peaceful PDF

Tommo’s Father / Mr. Peaceful Character Timeline in Private Peaceful

The timeline below shows where the character Tommo’s Father / Mr. 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
Tommo then thinks about his garden, and remembers burying his dead father’s belongings in the ground there. All of Tommo’s father’s things were buried in the garden... (full context)
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
Tommo remembers his father. He recalls how it was just the two of them in the woods on the... (full context)
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
...and realizes that a tree has started to sway. It is going to fall. His father tells him to “Run, Tommo!” but Tommo finds that he is paralyzed by fear. Tommo... (full context)
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
...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 swallow swoops around the church throughout the... (full context)
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
The Colonel steps up to the pulpit to make a speech about Tommo’s father, James Peaceful. During the speech, Tommo thinks of all the things his father used to... (full context)
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
...gathered round the grave, Tommo wishes that the vicar would stop talking so that Tommo’s father could hear the birds singing one last time. Tommo’s mother tells Big Joe that his... (full context)
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
...after the funeral, Tommo reflects on his “horrible” secret: that he has “killed [his] own father.” If his father hadn’t been trying to save Tommo from the falling tree, he wouldn’t... (full context)
Chapter 2: Twenty to Eleven
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...boys eavesdrop as he tells Mrs. Peaceful that the cottage, strictly speaking, was tied to Mr. Peaceful ’s job, and that technically the Peacefuls “have no right” to live there anymore in... (full context)
Chapter 5: Twenty-Four Minutes Past Twelve
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...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 tells Tommo how miserable she is,... (full context)
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...of letters he has sent Molly. She found them in Molly’s possession, and both Molly’s father and mother have read them all. She calls Charlie’s behavior disgusting, and then declares that... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...with a gun in his hand. 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... (full context)
Chapter 9: A Minute Past Three
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
...by a flare. Tommo presses himself into the ground and finds himself thinking of his father, and imagining himself apologizing to him for causing his death. (full context)
Chapter 10: Twenty-Five Past Three
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
Tommo goes on sentry duty. He thinks about Charlie and his father, and tries to imagine them as stars in the sky. He wishes he had told... (full context)
Chapter 12: Five to Five
Courage Theme Icon
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
Tommo finally brings himself to tell Charlie about the guilt he feels for their father’s death. Charlie assures Tommo that it “was the tree that killed Father, Tommo, not you,”... (full context)