Sula

The elderly matriarch of the Peace family, Eva Peace is an impressive, capable, and fiercely devoted mother and grandmother. As a young woman, she marries BoyBoy, but after BoyBoy leaves her, she throws herself into the task of raising her three children, Plum, Pearl, and Hannah. On many occasions, Eva is shown to be willing to sacrifice her own health and happiness to ensure the survival of her children—indeed, it’s suggested that she cuts off her own leg in order to collect an expensive insurance policy, and spends the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Eva is highly admired in the Bottom, and is given the important task of naming babies. In spite of her capacity to help and care for others, Eva is also capable of acts of great cruelty and spite, and some acts that could be interpreted as cruel or spiteful. When her youngest and seemingly favorite child, Plum, returns from World War I with a heroin addiction, Eva burns him alive rather than see him live his life in pain. Later, when she’s nearly 90 years old, Eva is sent to live in a retirement home, where she spends the rest of her days at first remembering, but then slowly forgetting, her own long life.

Eva Peace Quotes in Sula

The Sula quotes below are all either spoken by Eva Peace or refer to Eva Peace. 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:
Race and Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage International edition of Sula published in 2004.
1921 Quotes

Slowly each boy came out of whatever cocoon he was in at the time his mother or somebody gave him away, and accepted Eva's view, becoming in fact as well as in name a dewey—joining with the other two to become a trinity with a plural name... inseparable, loving nothing and no one but themselves. When the handle from the icebox fell off, all the deweys got whipped, and in dry-eyed silence watched their own feet as they turned their behinds high up into the air for the stroke.

Related Characters: Eva Peace, The deweys
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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He opened his eyes and saw what he imagined was the great wing of an eagle pouring a wet lightness over him. Some kind of baptism, some kind of blessing, he thought. Everything is going to be all right, it said. Knowing that it was so he closed his eyes and sank back into the bright hole of sleep. Eva stepped back from the bed and let the crutches rest under her arms. She rolled a bit of newspaper into a tight stick about six inches long, lit it and threw it onto the bed where the kerosene-soaked Plum lay in snug delight. Quickly, as the whoosh of flames engulfed him, she shut the door and made her slow and painful journey back to the top of the house.

Related Characters: Eva Peace, Ralph / Plum Peace
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

1923 Quotes

“There wasn't space for him in my womb. And he was crawlin' back. Being helpless and thinking baby thoughts and dreaming baby dreams and messing up his pants again and smiling all the time. I had room enough in my heart, but not in my womb, not no more. I birthed him once. I couldn't do it again. He was growed, a big old thing. Godhavemercy, I couldn't birth him twice.”

Related Characters: Eva Peace (speaker), Hannah Peace, Ralph / Plum Peace
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

1939 Quotes

When the word got out about Eva being put in Sunnydale, the people in the Bottom shook their heads and said Sula was a roach. Later, when they saw how she took Jude, then ditched him for others, and heard how he bought a bus ticket to Detroit (where he bought but never mailed birthday cards to his sons), they forgot all about Hannah's easy ways (or their own) and said she was a bitch. Everybody remembered the plague of robins that announced her return, and the tale about her watching Hannah burn was stirred up again…

Related Characters: Sula Peace, Eva Peace, Hannah Peace, Jude Greene
Related Symbols: The Plague of Robins
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deser

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

1965 Quotes

What did old Eva mean by “you watched?” How could she help seeing it? She was right there. But Eva didn't say, “see,” she said “watched.”
"I did not watch it. I just saw it." But it was there anyway, as it had always been, the old feeling and the old question. The good feeling she had had when Chicken's hands slipped. She hadn't wondered about that in years. "Why didn't I feel bad when it happened? How come it felt so good to see him fall?"

Related Characters: Nel Wright / Nel Wright Greene (speaker), Eva Peace (speaker), Sula Peace, Chicken Little
Page Number: 170
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Eva Peace Character Timeline in Sula

The timeline below shows where the character Eva Peace appears in Sula. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1920
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...unlike Helene—she never scolds or yells. Sula also lives with her grandmother—a one-legged woman named Eva, whom Nel finds fascinating. (full context)
1921
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...Peace lives in a big house. It was “created” and ruled over by her grandmother, Eva Peace, one of the oldest people in the Bottom. Long ago, Eva had two legs,... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Eva commands respect from the people in the neighborhood. Everyone knows that she married a man... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Years before, when Eva was first taking care of her three children by herself, she depended upon the kindness... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
During Eva’s first winter as a single mother, she sacrificed her own happiness and health for her... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Some three years after leaving, BoyBoy returned to Medallion, and went to see Eva and his children. Eva prepared lemonade for BoyBoy’s visit, not knowing if she’d scream at... (full context)
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Following BoyBoy’s visit, Eva continued taking care of her family alone. She allowed her cousins to visit her house,... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
In 1921, Eva’s granddaughter, Sula, is eleven years old. Eva has had three children. By this time, Eva... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
In 1920, the narrator remembers, Eva had given a name to an adult who was new to the Bottom: Tar Baby.... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
The narrator gives more information about Eva’s children. Pearl married at age fourteen and moved to Michigan—she had a quiet marriage, full... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Eva’s daughter, Hannah, “ripples with sex.” After her husband Rekus dies, she has many admirers. Hannah... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
The narrator briefly describes Eva’s youngest child, Plum. Plum fought in the war in 1917, and returned to the U.S.... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
One night in early 1921, Eva walks downstairs to see her son in his room. When Eva enters Plum’s room, she... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...strange, “warm light” pouring all over his body. As he enters a state of delirium, Eva stands over him, soaking him with kerosene. Then she takes a piece of newspaper, lights... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
A short time later, Eva hears the shouts of Hannah and “some child” coming from outside her room. Hannah rushes... (full context)
1923
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...room with an empty bowl and a pile of beans, and asks, quite abruptly, if Eva ever loved her children. Eva has been sitting in her room, yelling at the group... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
We switch from Eva’s perspective to Hannah’s. Hannah has filled her bowl with beans. Now, she takes the bowl... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
After a long period of silence, Eva replies to Hannah’s question. She says, “He give me such a time. Such a time.”... (full context)
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...was no rain or lightning, but only wind. On Thursday, the narrator claims, Hannah told Eva that she’d had a dream about a wedding, in which she wore a red bridal... (full context)
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...the people of the Bottom pick peaches for canning. Another strange thing that happens to Eva at this time is that she loses her comb, and has no way to straighten... (full context)
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
On the day that she loses her comb, Eva goes to her window and sees her daughter, Hannah, burning. She is standing outside, and... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...her to a hospital, Hannah has died from her burns. After the ambulance drives away, Eva, grief-stricken, crawls off toward the trees. She’s bleeding from her fall, so the crowd calls... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Eva lies in her hospital bed, trying to understand what has happened. She remembers Hannah’s dream... (full context)
1937
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...sit on their porches and whistle at any woman who passes by. Sula walks to Eva’s house, and finds Eva sitting outside. Eva stares at Sula in more or less the... (full context)
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Eva peppers Sula with questions as soon as she sees her. Eva wants to know when... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
In May (after Eva has been taken away), the “plague of robins” has flown away. Nel believes that things... (full context)
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...years—all Nel knows is that Sula was in Nashville for some time (Nel had asked Eva, who gave a largely incoherent answer). Sula turns Nel’s questions back on her—she points out... (full context)
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Sula continues telling Nel about Eva’s family situation. After Plum and Hannah died, Eva collected large amounts of life insurance, some... (full context)
1939
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Word gets out that Eva is being sent to a nursing home, and people learn that Sula is responsible for... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...tried to convince the jailers to let Tar Baby change his clothes. Because the jailers—like Eva—regarded Tar Baby as a white man, they refused to let him change, saying that a... (full context)
1940
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Nel stands outside Eva’s old bedroom, staring at Sula. She asks Sula—just as she’s rehearsed many times—if there’s anything... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Sula wakes up and finds herself staring at the window—the same window out of which Eva jumped years ago. She then turns her head so that she can’t see the window.... (full context)
1941
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...of news reaches the Bottom: renovation work is being done on the nursing home where Eva now lives. The home is made to be brand-new and up-to-date. (full context)
1965
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Nel thinks of Eva—still confined to a nursing home, thanks to Sula. Nel considers the facts: it’s true that... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Nel finds that she can’t stop thinking about Eva, and decides to visit her in her old folk’s home in Beechnut. She arrives at... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Inside Eva’s room, Nel finds Eva, looking very different from her former self. She seems to have... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Nel tries to explain herself to Eva. She insists that it was Sula who killed Chicken Little, not her. Eva laughs and... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...people, but only words. For years, Nel had believed that she, and she alone, understood Eva—even understood why Eva refused to attend Sula’s funeral. Nel believed that Eva had refused because... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Nel remembers the day of Sula’s death—she was found in Eva’s house, with her mouth wide open. When the neighborhood found out about Sula’s death, some... (full context)