© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.


Character Analysis

Eva is also one of the few characters to survive at the end of the novel. The matriarch of the Peace family, Eva is tough and strong-willed, and some of her decisions may be hard to understand. After her husband leaves her with three kids and no money, she fights hard to survive. When she finally can't take the struggle any longer, she leaves her kids with a neighbor and returns a year and a half later with a missing leg and some money. Many think Eva purposely lost her leg to get the insurance money, which tells us a lot about her character. She does what she has to do to survive, and this has made her a rather hard woman who shows little affection for her family, at least in the traditional sense.

We see that Eva is fiercely devoted to her children, even if we don't always agree with her ways of showing it. She sets her son Plum on fire, truly believing that she's doing the right thing by giving him a death worthy of a man. When she sees her daughter Hannah on fire, she doesn't hesitate to try to save Hannah by jumping on top of her from her bedroom window. Eva might not be the warmest woman, but she clearly takes her role as a mother seriously (in ways that Hannah never does with Sula).

Eva also seems to pass on to Hannah (and then on to Sula) a need for male attention. Even as she ages, Eva continues to entertain various men. She welcomes their presence in her house and seemingly makes no effort to hide them from her children. As we think about all that Eva, Hannah, and Sula share in terms of their personalities, habits, and desires, we see that Eva is the first in a long line of women who "simply love. . . maleness, for its own sake" (1921.35). Eva thus sets in action many of the important events of the novel.

Eva Timeline