Sula

Ralph / Plum Peace Character Analysis

The youngest and seemingly best loved of Eva Peace’s three children, Plum Peace goes off to fight in World War I, and, like Shadrack, comes back a broken man. He spends a year traveling through the biggest American cities, and, it’s implied, develops a heroin habit in the process. Eva Peace, overcome with grief at her favorite child’s pain and misery, decides to “mercifully” kill Plum by burning him alive—one of the central events of the novel.

Ralph / Plum Peace Quotes in Sula

The Sula quotes below are all either spoken by Ralph / Plum Peace or refer to Ralph / Plum 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage International edition of Sula published in 2004.
1921 Quotes

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.

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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.

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Ralph / Plum Peace Character Timeline in Sula

The timeline below shows where the character Ralph / Plum Peace appears in Sula. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1921
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...a man named BoyBoy, and had three children: Hannah, Eva, nicknamed Pearl, and Ralph, nicknamed Plum. BoyBoy was an abusive husband—he drank too much, and took out his anger on his... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...own happiness and health for her children, giving her last bites of food to Ralph (Plum), who was only a baby at the time. Eva then left her children with the... (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. in 1919. He... (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
...early 1921, Eva walks downstairs to see her son in his room. When Eva enters Plum’s room, she finds him lying in bed. Near him there is a glass of what... (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
That night, Plum, still sitting in bed, feels a strange, “warm light” pouring all over his body. As... (full context)
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...and “some child” coming from outside her room. Hannah rushes to Eva’s door, screaming that Plum is burning. Eva replies, “Is? My baby? Burning?” The two women—mother and daughter—looked at one... (full context)
1923
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
...beans. Now, she takes the bowl and asks Eva one more question, “What’d you kill Plum for, Mamma?” Eva is quiet. She remembers long ago, when Plum was only a baby,... (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
...question. She says, “He give me such a time. Such a time.” Eva explains that Plum never had much desire to be alive—when he was a baby, he almost died, and... (full context)
1937
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...truth: she got rid of Eva because she was afraid. She explains that Eva burned Plum to death, and claims that she witnessed this. Nel isn’t sure what to think—Sula has... (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 of which paid for... (full context)
1965
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Suffering and Community Identity Theme Icon
Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Signs, Names, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...says, “What’s the difference? You was there.” Eva tells Nel that she’s been talking to Plum, who tells her things about the living and dead. Disturbed, Nel walks out of the... (full context)