Sula

Helene Sabat Wright Character Analysis

Helene Sabat is a proud, pious woman who was born in New Orleans, and later moved to Medallion, Ohio to marry Wiley Wright, her cousin. Helene was born in a whorehouse in New Orleans, but she was raised by her grandmother to be good and proper in all ways. Helene demands control over every part of her life—a quality she passes down to her child, Nel Wright. Like most of the other characters in Sula, Helene struggles to make sense of her painful, traumatic life—goodness and piety are ways for her to “take control” and stave off her own misery.

Helene Sabat Wright Quotes in Sula

The Sula quotes below are all either spoken by Helene Sabat Wright or refer to Helene Sabat Wright. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage International edition of Sula published in 2004.
1920 Quotes

He was a seaman (or rather a lakeman, for he was a ship's cook on one of the Great Lakes lines), in port only three days out of every sixteen. He took his bride to his home in Medallion and put her in a lovely house with a brick porch and real lace curtains at the window. His long absences were quite bearable for Helene Wright, especially when, after some nine years of marriage, her daughter was born. Her daughter was more comfort and purpose than she had ever hoped to find in this life.

Related Characters: Nel Wright / Nel Wright Greene, Helene Sabat Wright, Wiley Wright
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

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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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It was on that train, shuffling toward Cincinnati, that she resolved to be on guard—always. She wanted to make certain that no man ever looked at her that way. That no midnight eyes or marbled flesh would ever accost her and turn her into jelly.

Related Characters: Nel Wright / Nel Wright Greene, Helene Sabat Wright
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

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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.

1927 Quotes

She was not only a little drunk, she was weary and had been for weeks. Her only child's wedding—the culmination of all she had been, thought or done in this world—had dragged from her energy and stamina even she did not know she possessed. Her house had to be thoroughly cleaned, chickens had to be plucked, cakes and pies made, and for weeks she, her friends and her daughter had been sewing. Now it was all happening and it took only a little cane juice to snap the cords of fatigue and damn the white curtains that she had pinned on the stretcher only the morning before.

Related Characters: Nel Wright / Nel Wright Greene, Helene Sabat Wright
Page Number: 79-80
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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Helene Sabat Wright Character Timeline in Sula

The timeline below shows where the character Helene Sabat Wright appears in Sula. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1920
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...Sundown House as possible.” This chapter is told from the perspective of a woman named Helene Sabat. Helene is born in a New Orleans brothel called the Sundown House, to a... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
When Helene is a young woman, a seaman named Wiley Wright comes to New Orleans to visit... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
After being married to Wiley for nine years, Helene gives birth to a daughter, Nel, whom she adores. Secretly, Helene is happy that Nel... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
In November 1920, Helene receives a letter from Henri Martin, explaining that Helene’s grandmother is ill. Helene is nervous... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Helene and Nel board a train bound for New Orleans. When they board, they make a... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...chapter shifts to Nel’s perspective. On the train to New Orleans, Nel witnesses her mother, Helene, fumbling with her tickets when the white conductor comes to collect them. Helene, afraid of... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
As Nel and Helene travel down to New Orleans, the conditions on the train get worse and worse. Black... (full context)
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
In New Orleans, Nel and Helene make their ways to Cecile’s house (until this moment, the narrator hadn’t made it clear... (full context)
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Rochelle asks Helene if Nel is her only child, and compliments her for being pretty like Helene was.... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Nel and Helene travel back to Medallion from New Orleans. When they return to their house, they find... (full context)
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...plays with, because Sula’s parents are supposed to be “sooty.” The first time Sula visits Helene’s house to play with Nel, Helene falls in love with Sula—Sula is well-behaved, and nothing... (full context)
1922
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
...“prince” one day. Nel lives in a very orderly house, presided over by her mother, Helene. Sula’s house, on the other hand, is always chaotic when she is growing up. Yet... (full context)
1927
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
The year is 1927, and there is a great dance going on in Helene Wright’s house in the Bottom. Old folks dance with children, and everyone seems to be... (full context)
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Helene has arranged for her daughter to be married in an actual church—a very expensive wedding,... (full context)
1937
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...with one another. Nel feels Jude looking at her—the same way the veterans looked at Helene years ago, on the train to New Orleans. Jude and Sula walk out, and Jude... (full context)
1941
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
...out to dance with Shadrack, and laugh and cheer for National Suicide Day. Some, like Helene Wright, refuse to join in, and watch the parade with scorn. (full context)