The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

by

Jeffrey Hobbs

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Jackie Peace is Robert Peace’s hardworking mother. As a young woman, she meets Skeet, and eventually has his child. However, she refuses to marry Skeet, reasoning that marriage is the quickest way to scare a man out of the house—the best way to keep Skeet in Robert’s life, paradoxically, is not to marry him. After Skeet is arrested and imprisoned, however, Jackie has to work twice as hard. She takes on extra work to send Robert to private school, recognizing that he’s a brilliant boy who deserves a first-rate education. Jackie clearly loves her son deeply, and yet, as Robert gets older, she seems strangely nervous about his future. After Robert graduates from Yale and begins dealing drugs to support himself, she begins to spend less time around him, and tells him that she no longer needs him to send her money. Jackie is perhaps the most poignant character in The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: she’s an honest, hardworking woman who clearly loves her son more than anything else in her life. Yet in spite of all the work she does and all the love she gives him, she can’t stop him from making some disastrous choices.

Jackie Peace Quotes in The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

The The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace quotes below are all either spoken by Jackie Peace or refer to Jackie 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:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace published in 2014.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Jackie and Rob would eat their snacks on the blanket (never on park benches, because stupefied addicts peed themselves on them), and she'd follow him closely over the jungle gym while her eyes searched always for nails or glass or older, rougher children who had no business on a toddler playground, anything that posed a threat to her boy.

Related Characters: Jeff Hobbs (speaker), Robert DeShaun Peace, Jackie Peace
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

But still she saw the anger in him, a gradually thickening shade just behind the sometimes impenetrable veil of his eyes. She knew that any anger could be dangerous, and that this particular variety, seeded so deeply during Skeet's three years in jail awaiting trial—nearly a third of her son's life by the time it was finished—was especially destructive.

Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

As Coach Ridley learned that early winter morning of 1998, Rob Peace was one of those students. All the anger Rob felt—at his father's imprisonment, his mother's weariness, his own poverty that tasted like ketchup packets—only seemed to fuel his merits as a scholar and leader, and hide itself behind those ever-rising attributes.

Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

"I don't need you to," she replied. "I never have. Don't you go worrying about me. Take care of yourself. I just want you happy foremost, and I want you around if it works that way. I want you settled."

Related Characters: Jackie Peace (speaker), Robert DeShaun Peace
Page Number: 305
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

Her son made sense with numbers. He always had. And now he was thirty years old, taking her through the tiers of retirement benefits. She wished that these calculations hadn't always been so challenging, not in terms of the math but its implications. She knew that he wished the same thing. But she didn't fix any anger, as her son did, to that wish. She'd entertained many such wishes during the course of her life and had long since accepted the reality that very few of them would come true. She'd wished that Skeet had been innocent. She'd wished for jackpots with each crank of an Atlantic City slot machine.

Page Number: 367
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

She parked and placed one foot in front of the other until she stood in the cold, metallic room that smelled of chemicals, and watched the coroner fold the white sheet down from her son's face. She nodded and said, “Yeah, that's Shawn, that's my son.” From there, she drove straight to work.

Related Characters: Jeff Hobbs (speaker), Jackie Peace (speaker), Robert DeShaun Peace
Page Number: 384
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace LitChart as a printable PDF.

Jackie Peace Character Timeline in The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

The timeline below shows where the character Jackie Peace appears in The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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On a warm June night in 1980, a woman named Jackie Peace carries a new baby boy named Robert DeShaun Peace. Jackie has just left the... (full context)
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Jackie lives at home with her eight siblings, her mother Frances, and her father Horace. At... (full context)
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Jackie has lived on Chapman Street, in Newark’s Orange Park neighborhood, since she was eleven. Nearby,... (full context)
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Although Jackie grows up in a big family, she decided early on that she didn’t want more... (full context)
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In 1979, Jackie—aged thirty—meets Skeet. Jackie has just lost her job and moved back in with her parents.... (full context)
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After Jackie gives birth to Robert, Skeet complains that Jackie spoils her baby. Skeet is also frustrated... (full context)
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Jackie grows up in Newark at an important time in the city’s history. In 1967, the... (full context)
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...country. Violent crime is alarmingly high, and crack cocaine use rises. Skeet continues to ask Jackie to marry him, but she refuses, partly because she’s afraid of living in the same... (full context)
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Jackie takes great care to raise Robert right. She reads books to him, and notices that... (full context)
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By the time Robert is four years old, Jackie has decided that she wants to move to a new house. She manages to rent... (full context)
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To save money, Jackie finally begins to consider moving in with Skeet. Skeet is thirty-eight years old at the... (full context)
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Robert begins kindergarten at the local elementary school. Jackie wanted to send him to a private elementary school, but her parents refused to help... (full context)
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...clearly worships Skeet, and Skeet introduces him to boxing and rap music, neither of which Jackie approves of. However, Skeet is an intelligent man, and he’s genuinely excited when he sees... (full context)
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On August 9, 1987, Jackie gets a call from Frances, explaining that the police are looking for Skeet. Jackie becomes... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Five days have passed, and Skeet is in jail. Jackie goes to visit him. She doesn’t know anything about the crime Skeet is said to... (full context)
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...with Skeet. Now, some of Robert’s friends ask where his dad has gone. Robert doesn’t know—Jackie can’t bear to tell him the truth. Eventually, she tells him that Skeet has taken... (full context)
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A few days before Robert starts the first grade, Jackie tells her son the truth about Skeet: he’s in jail for murder. Robert doesn’t ask... (full context)
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In the midst of the preparation for Skeet’s trial, Jackie takes Robert to the Essex County jail. She’s been in regular contact with Skeet, who... (full context)
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...is a “hero” for committing murder, and he seems to take pride in hearing this. Jackie is terrified that her son is growing into a criminal. She decides to take night... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...school where most of the students are black or Hispanic. The tuition is expensive, and Jackie knows she’s taking a gamble—hopefully, the school will prove to be a good influence on... (full context)
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Shortly after Skeet is convicted, Jackie buys Robert a copy of the A volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Jackie is worried... (full context)
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...many black youths in Newark who idolizes Sharpe James. In the fifth grade, Robert asks Jackie to take him downtown to listen to James’s speeches. Jackie later says that James is... (full context)
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...put him through school. He begins working odd jobs on weekends to make extra money. Jackie admires her son’s discipline—a quality that she’s always believed is a better symbol of manhood... (full context)
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...at these subjects that his teachers are convinced that he’s cheating on his homework—something that Jackie angrily denies. Robert is particularly irritated that the teachers make him show his work—he tells... (full context)
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Jackie and Robert visit Skeet in Trenton State prison. The prison is a frightening place, and... (full context)
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In 1993, Jackie loses her job at the University Hospital. This means that she has no choice but... (full context)
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Jackie finds a new job in a health care company. The job is a demotion from... (full context)
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Robert tells Jackie that he wants to attend St. Benedict’s Prep, a Catholic school with a reputation for... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...Robert is abruptly pulled from the Orange High football team due to an insurance technicality. Jackie then forces Robert to try out for a St. Benedict’s sports team. After some hesitation,... (full context)
Chapter 5
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After the judge throws out Skeet’s indictment, Skeet moves in to Jackie’s house. The house immediately begins to feel crowded. Skeet doesn’t leave the house—he seems nervous... (full context)
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...students have “worked harder and sacrificed more.” On the final date for committing to Hopkins, Jackie is preparing to drop off Robert’s signed documents. But her boss makes her stay. Frantic,... (full context)
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Jackie is overjoyed that her son is attending an Ivy League school. She tells all her... (full context)
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...few weeks before starting college, Jeff misses a call from Robert. He calls back, and Jackie picks up the phone. Confused at first, she realizes who’s calling, and puts Robert on.... (full context)
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...visits him in jail. He also visits his grandparents. Then he packs his things, and Jackie drives him ninety miles to Yale. Robert is quiet on the drive—a little scared of... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...greets Jeff’s parents. Jeff’s father, Chuck Hobbs, a successful surgeon, tries to make conversation with Jackie, but Jackie seems unwilling to engage. It never occurs to Jeff to wonder where Robert’s... (full context)
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...into his dorm room. Every time Jeff returns to the dorm, he sees Robert and Jackie sitting there, silent. Then, Jeff says a slightly tearful goodbye to his parents, and they... (full context)
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Jeff finds Jackie still sitting in the dorm room. He feels a little uncomfortable, and wants to prove... (full context)
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...the city’s main sites for buying and selling drugs. At home, Robert eats dinner with Jackie. Jackie has found it difficult to adjust to Robert being away from home, and Robert... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...Jeff also notices that the only person who doesn’t seem overjoyed with Robert’s accomplishments is Jackie. (full context)
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...two-day process, during which Robert smokes a lot of marijuana. After the speeches, Robert takes Jackie to a cocktail party at the Elihu house. The final event of the graduation season... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Meanwhile, the last four years have been the hardest of Jackie’s life. She’s worked hard, and lived alone for the first time in her life. She’s... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Robert buys a house for himself near Chapman Street. Jackie is confused: Robert is making even less money than she makes, and she expects him... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...that he intends to get into real estate, continue teaching, make enough money to support Jackie, and go to graduate school. Yet Robert’s friends—as well as Friar Leahy—notice that he seems... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...prison outfit. His coworkers are older than he is, and he gets along with them. Jackie is furious that Robert has taken such a low-paying job, for which he didn’t even... (full context)
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...naked in a favela, with his wallet gone. When he returns to Newark and tells Jackie what happened, Jackie says, “I don’t need you. I never have. Don’t you go worrying... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Meanwhile, Jackie becomes increasingly saddened by Robert’s path in life. Robert leaves money for her, but he... (full context)
Chapter 15
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While Robert tries to straighten things out, he spends time with Jackie. Jackie is contemplating retiring soon. She’s lived through a lot, but she’s not angry. Instead,... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Late that night, Jackie is woken up by the sound of Julius knocking on her door. Tearfully, Julius explains... (full context)
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...a holding cell. Curtis says he doesn’t know anything about the marijuana in the basement. Jackie is summoned to the morgue to identify her son’s body. She does so, and then,... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Jackie has requested that Robert’s high school friends, including Julius and Drew (Curtis is still in... (full context)
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Raquel tries to raise money for Jackie’s funeral expenses. To her fury, many of the elite Yale students who bought weed from... (full context)
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...all it can for children from impoverished families, sending many of them to good schools. Jackie continues working. (full context)
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On what would have been Robert’s thirty-first birthday, Raquel and Rene visit Jackie. They provide her with nearly five thousand dollars in donations—almost enough to cover Robert’s funeral... (full context)