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.

Edison Character Analysis

Ruth's seventeen-year-old son. Prior to Davis's death, Edison is an honor student on the fast track to college. He attends a prestigious school and Ruth is extremely proud of him. However, around the time of Davis's death, Edison starts seeing that the world is more racist than Ruth previously let on. Feeling disillusioned, he starts to act out, especially after Ruth spends the night in jail. Edison starts skipping school and spending time with one of Adisa's sons, drinking and smoking marijuana. He gets suspended twice. Though he worries for Ruth, he has no faith in the justice system to make the right call, and he resents his teachers and classmates for either making fun of him or wanting to help. His frustration and sense of helplessness reaches a breaking point the night before closing arguments. Hoping to frame Turk and help Ruth, Edison spray-paints a swastika and a racist slur on the hospital. Odette gets Edison's case dismissed and his brush with the law, combined with Ruth's acquittal, spurs him to turn his life around. He reaffirms his commitment to school, expresses interest in becoming a lawyer, and when Turk visits Ruth's medical center six years later, Turk notices a photograph of Edison graduating from Yale.

Edison Quotes in Small Great Things

The Small Great Things quotes below are all either spoken by Edison or refer to Edison. 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 4, Ruth Quotes

I enrolled Edison in preschool there, so that he started at the same time as all the other kids, and no one could see him as an outsider. He was one of them, from the start. When he wanted to have his friends over for a sleepover, no parent could say it was too dangerous an area for their kid to visit. It was, after all, their neighborhood, too.

Related Characters: Ruth Jefferson (speaker), Edison, Wesley Jefferson
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8, Kennedy Quotes

In that moment, we're not black and white, or attorney and accused. We're not separated by what I know about the legal system and what she has yet to learn. We are just two mothers, sitting side by side.

Related Characters: Kennedy McQuarrie (speaker), Ruth Jefferson, Edison, Violet
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Small Great Things LitChart as a printable PDF.
Small Great Things PDF

Edison Character Timeline in Small Great Things

The timeline below shows where the character Edison appears in Small Great Things. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2, Ruth
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Ruth says that when she had her son Edison, she was mostly worried about her hair. She says that it's perfectly normal for new... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
...be late today. They discuss their children and Ruth modestly refuses to take credit for Edison's good grades. She ignores Marie's comment that Ruth should be proud that "a boy like... (full context)
Chapter 4, Ruth
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Ruth decided early on to try to save Edison from the troubles she faced, so she and her husband Wesley moved to an affluent... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Edison explains that he got into an argument with his best friend Bryce. Edison has been... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Ruth asks Edison if he remembers a preschool classmate who insisted that Edison looked like black toast. Then,... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
...rather than working all day Saturday. Ruth agrees, excited to have Saturday to spend with Edison. Adisa insists that they shouldn't be asking Ruth for favors, but the nail technician interrupts. (full context)
Chapter 7, Ruth
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
...she's told others—that she didn't touch Davis. When she gets off the phone with Carla, Edison asks if she was talking to someone white, since she was speaking differently. When Ruth... (full context)
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
...Mama is cleaning the strands of crystal from the chandeliers. Mama talks about Adisa and Edison as Ruth remembers how, as a child, Mama would bring her on Saturdays so that... (full context)
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
When Ruth gets home, Edison is doing homework. She's going to be late for her shift, but talks to Edison... (full context)
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Adisa insists that this was bound to happen. She says that Ruth should just tell Edison the truth and get a lawyer to sue the hospital. Groaning, Ruth says she wants... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
A few hours later, Ruth returns home. Edison is concerned, but Ruth lies that shifts got mixed up, so she and Corinne went... (full context)
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...drawn. One officer pushes Ruth to the floor to handcuff her, while others overturn furniture. Edison calls out and Ruth screams as the police attack and handcuff him. She yells for... (full context)
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...shots. A young cop leads her to a holding cell. Ruth sits and wonders if Edison has called Adisa and realizes that the Hallowells will be able to get her out.... (full context)
Chapter 8, Kennedy
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...work with, Kennedy asks the judge to set bail at $25,000. Ruth quietly points to Edison and asks Kennedy if she has kids. Kennedy thinks of Violet and tells the judge... (full context)
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...her up uncomfortably and then answers Kennedy's questions about her job, her home, and about Edison. Kennedy is surprised that Ruth lives in her neighborhood, that Adisa lives in a difficult... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
...that being white means that few people will question their intentions. She walks up to Edison, who is nervous and polite, and Adisa, who seems angry, and tells them that she... (full context)
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...a panicked Ruth that it'll take a few days before she's released. She runs to Edison and Adisa and begins telling them what documents they need for the house. She gives... (full context)
Chapter 10, Ruth
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
Ruth thinks of slavery as, after her arraignment, she's put in chains. Even worse, Edison is watching. Ruth thinks back to how she lied that she didn't touch Davis, but... (full context)
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...counselor, Officer Ramirez, Ruth is distraught to learn that it might take ten days before Edison can visit, and he might not be able to anyway—he's a minor, and Adisa can't... (full context)
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
...says she has no money, the officer motions to a shape in the distance. It's Edison with the car. (full context)
Chapter 12, Ruth
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...morning after Ruth gets out of jail, she wakes up, starts coffee, and heads to Edison's room. Edison finally wakes and says he needs to get ready for school. Ruth knows... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
Ruth feels like she's taking a test as she answers Kennedy's questions. She thinks of Edison and says she can't go back to jail, but bristles when Kennedy says she's experienced... (full context)
Chapter 14, Ruth
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...shift at McDonald's. She was asked to start immediately, so she left a note for Edison saying she has a surprise. A teen named Nahndi shows Ruth the different stations and... (full context)
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
When Ruth gets home, she showers, starts dinner, and texts Edison. When he finally gets home, he grabs a big Mason jar and a checkbook and... (full context)
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
Ruth thinks of this as Edison's principal tells her that Edison punched Bryce. The principal agrees to not put it on... (full context)
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
When they get home, Ruth grounds Edison for one week. She extends it to two when he suggests that he should punch... (full context)
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...to resuscitate Davis, but instead leaves to get a box of Band-Aids. Ruth explains how Edison used to ask her to take the jelly off of his peanut butter and jelly... (full context)
Chapter 16, Kennedy
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...Ruth: there will be angry mobs, her face on TV every night, and it'll drag Edison into the public eye. She'll become as famous as Trayvon Martin and never get her... (full context)
Chapter 17, Ruth
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
During one of Ruth's shifts in January, she thinks of Edison. He's stopped doing his homework and is sullen and moody, but Ruth doesn't know what... (full context)
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
...escalate, one of Adisa's sons bursts in with another boy who turns out to be Edison. Both are dressed like gangsters and say they're going to see a movie, but Ruth... (full context)
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Ruth remembers Edison's birth. She'd had an emergency C-section and Mama had been with her since Wesley was... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Near the end of January, Kennedy invites Ruth and Edison to dinner. Micah answers the door with Violet in his arms, dressed in a Tiana... (full context)
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...and says that there's also slavery in the Bible. Ruth notices that during her lesson, Edison removes his chain. She follows Kennedy into the kitchen, where Kennedy again apologizes for Violet... (full context)
Chapter 19, Ruth
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
On the morning of the trial, Ruth knocks on Edison's door. She finds him in bed, awake, and he refuses to go. Kennedy had asked... (full context)
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
As Ruth and Edison step off the bus, Ruth receives a call from Adisa. Ruth follows Adisa's instructions to... (full context)
Chapter 21, Kennedy
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
...white supremacists walk through Mercy's group, throwing punches, and police separate the groups. Kennedy finds Edison in the parking lot, and Ruth stands on the sidewalk watching. After a minute, Ruth... (full context)
Chapter 22, Ruth
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
At the break, Kennedy offers to buy Ruth and Edison lunch. When Ruth refuses, Kennedy assures her that this was a good start. After Kennedy... (full context)
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
...didn't do, but a baby still died tragically. Ruth uses the restroom before she and Edison leave, and she runs into Odette. Odette compliments Ruth on Kennedy's day, but insists that... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
The next morning, a snowstorm means that Ruth and Edison are five minutes late. Kennedy is upset, but Judge Thunder is late too since he... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...Ruth's home in case there was a weapon. When Kennedy asks about why they tackled Edison, he says that Edison looked large, angry, and black. Kennedy asks if he was also... (full context)
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
When Edison and Ruth get home, they see a black car with a driver in front of... (full context)
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
...to make it look like Ruth didn't neglect and then intentionally harm Davis. That night, Edison heads out almost as soon as he gets home. After waiting for hours, Ruth puts... (full context)
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Edison slips into the house and is surprised that Ruth is still awake. She tells him... (full context)
Chapter 24, Kennedy
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
On Friday morning, Kennedy meets Ruth and Edison behind the courthouse. Ruth is still insistent on testifying. Kennedy notices Wallace Mercy outside. She... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...thought Davis was better off dead than raised by Turk. Howard shouts his objection and Edison runs out of the room. (full context)
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...because she spends every minute trying not to be "too black" to keep herself and Edison safe. She approaches Kennedy and asks if Kennedy has ever considered whether her good fortune... (full context)
Chapter 25, Ruth
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
When Ruth gets home, Edison isn't there. She wonders if she's actually the villain for thinking that Davis would grow... (full context)
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Edison returns after midnight, carrying a knapsack. He looks wild and locks himself in his room.... (full context)
Chapter 26, Kennedy
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
...explains that she's the family lawyer. The officer says that they have security footage of Edison spray-painting swastikas and racist slurs on the hospital, which makes this a hate crime. Kennedy... (full context)
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
...Monday morning, Judge Thunder agrees to delay closing arguments so that Kennedy can deal with Edison's formal arraignment first. Edison is released with no issues and everyone slips into Judge Thunder's... (full context)
Chapter 27, Ruth
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
...worth hearing. Suddenly, Odette appears in front of them. She briskly says that she's getting Edison's case dismissed and offers only that she has a fifteen-year-old daughter as explanation. (full context)
Chapter 29, Kennedy
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
It takes two days for the jury to return their verdict. Edison returns to school, his desire to do well renewed. Ruth appears on Wallace Mercy's show... (full context)
Chapter 30, Ruth
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
...courtroom in a daze. She feels different, but also like nothing has changed. She texts Edison, calls Adisa, and gets a text from Christina. Kennedy and Howard assure Ruth that it's... (full context)
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
...She runs back to get it and stands alone with the scarf. She thinks that Edison might one day argue a case here and feels free for the first time. (full context)
Chapter 31, Turk
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
...room. He sees a diploma with the name Ruth Jefferson on it, a photograph of Edison graduating from Yale, and a ring on Ruth's finger. As Ruth excuses herself to get... (full context)