Small Great Things

Small Great Things

by

Jodi Picoult

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Small Great Things can help.

Ava Character Analysis

Kennedy's mother. Ava is very proper and the epitome of feminine womanhood, having been raised on the debutante circuit in the South. Though both Kennedy and Micah find this tiring, Violet loves it: it means that Ava throws wonderful tea parties for her granddaughter, complete with her good wedding china. Ava babysits Violet often and though she usually follows Kennedy's wishes as to what television Violet can watch, she does occasionally watch Fox News around Violet. While Ava doesn't see herself as racist or hateful, she does object to Violet's desire to be Princess Tiana (who's black) for Halloween, and Kennedy believes that her television viewing habits betray latent racism and conservatism that she doesn't appreciate. Ava, on the other hand, insists she's not racist since she loved her childhood black maid, Beattie, like family. Kennedy usually rolls her eyes when Ava brings this up, but when Ava attends Mama's funeral and shows Ruth a photograph of herself and Beattie, Ruth sees that there was genuine love between the two.

Ava Quotes in Small Great Things

The Small Great Things quotes below are all either spoken by Ava or refer to Ava. 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:
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Small Great Things published in 2016.
Chapter 17, Ruth Quotes

It is a picture of a Black woman wearing a maid's uniform, holding a little girl in her arms. The girl has hair as light as snow, and her hand is pressed against her caregiver's cheek in shocking contrast. There's more than just duty between them. There's pride. There's love. "I didn't know your mother. But, Ruth—she didn't waste her life."

Related Characters: Ruth Jefferson (speaker), Ava (speaker), Kennedy McQuarrie, Mama, Beattie
Related Symbols: The Photograph
Page Number: 292
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Small Great Things LitChart as a printable PDF.
Small Great Things PDF

Ava Character Timeline in Small Great Things

The timeline below shows where the character Ava appears in Small Great Things. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5, Kennedy
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Kennedy explains that her mother, Ava, bought her a gift card for a massage last year. Kennedy feels she has better... (full context)
Chapter 8, Kennedy
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
When Kennedy gets home, Ava is on the couch with a glass of wine watching Disney Junior, Violet asleep next... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Ava insists she isn't prejudiced; she says she loved her childhood nanny, Beattie, like she was... (full context)
Chapter 13, Kennedy
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
When Kennedy gets home after meeting with Ruth, Ava and Violet have made pizza. Kennedy picks Violet up as Violet asks her to guess... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Kennedy asks Ava to at least watch MSNBC if she wants to watch Wallace Mercy, but Ava insists... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Kennedy heads upstairs to read to Violet. She makes a mental note to thank Ava for bathing, feeding, and loving Violet, but also thinks of Ruth and that police will... (full context)
Chapter 16, Kennedy
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
...has a spare few hours one afternoon, she heads out of the office and meets Ava and Violet at the park. She greets them and then lies down on the bench... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
After a few minutes, Ava says that when she was nine, the court ruled that five black children would come... (full context)
Chapter 17, Ruth
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...in the kitchen and looks through Mama's partially finished handwritten cookbook. Kennedy interrupts Ruth, introduces Ava, and asks about the cookbook. Bitterly, Ruth says that Mama wasted her life slaving away... (full context)
Chapter 24, Kennedy
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
...and says that closing arguments will take place Monday morning. Kennedy arrives home to find Ava making cookies with Violet. She ignores Ava's questions if she's okay, sits down with Violet,... (full context)
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Kennedy leaves Ava with Violet and takes the bus downtown. She stops at a CVS and looks at... (full context)