Founder of National Suicide Day, Shadrack is a veteran of war. A survivor of battle, Shadrack was hospitalized for over a year before he returned to the Bottom. He lives in a shack previously owned by his long deceased grandfather. On January 3 every year, in observance of National Suicide Day, he parades through the Bottom with a cowbell and lets everyone know that they may kill themselves or one another.
Nel is the daughter of Wiley and Helene Wright. She befriends Sula in childhood. After graduating from school, Nel marries Jude Greene.
Helene is born behind the red shutters at the Sundown House, a place of prostitution. She is taken away from her birth mother, Rochelle, a Creole prostitute, by her grandmother Cecile Sabat. Raised in a strictly religious home, Helene grows up to be authoritative and devout. She marries Wiley Wright and gives birth to daughter Nel after 9 years of marriage. The family lives in a nice house in the Bottom.
Wiley Wright is the great nephew of Cecile Sabat. He is also Helene Sabat’s husband and Nel’s father. Wiley spends a lot of time away from home as chef on a ship company called the Great Lakes Line.
Cecile is the great aunt of Wiley and grandmother to Helene. She raises Helene in a religious and strict home and cautions her against taking after Rochelle, Helene’s mother. When Cecile falls ill and dies Helene takes her daughter Nel with her to New Orleans to say her last goodbyes.
The daughter of Hannah Peace and granddaughter of Eva Peace. She is a close childhood friend of Nel Wright. Sula has a birthmark on her eyelid that many think resembles a rose and a stem.
Hannah is Sula’s mother and Eva’s eldest child. Hannah is known in the Bottom for sleeping with many men, married or unmarried. She dies in a tragic fire accident.
Eva is the mother of three: Hannah, Pearl, and Ralph (or Plum). She mysteriously loses one of her legs after she is left by her husband BoyBoy. Eva owns a large home on Carpenter’s Road where she houses many boarders and family members.
Eva’s youngest daughter and namesake (her name is also Eva although she is called Pearl). Pearl is the only one of Eva’s children who moves away from Medallion permanently. Pearl moves to Flint, Michigan at age 14 with her husband.
Ralph (Plum) Peace
Ralph, nicknamed Plum, is Eva’s youngest and most loved child. He fights in World War I and returns drastically changed by his experiences. He dies in a fire.
Mr. and Mrs. Suggs are neighbors of the Peace family. They assist Eva after she is abandoned by BoyBoy, and they aid Hannah after the yard fire accident.
BoyBoy was Eva’s womanizing and abusive husband. He moves Eva away from her home in Virginia to Medallion at the insistence of his white employer. He abandons Eva and the children, leaving them without money or food.
The Deweys are three children who are taken in by Eva in 1921. Eva renames all of three boys Dewey. Each has his own physical characteristics and they are all different ages but they become very close to one another and learn to love only each other. Despite their differences, it is hard for people to tell them apart because they favor each other in thought and mannerisms. The Deweys remain the size of children throughout their years and are last seen on National Suicide Day in 1941.
Tar Baby is a small, soft-spoken man who boards in Eva’s house. He is rumored by some to have white ancestry although Eva considers him to be entirely white. Tar Baby is called Pretty Johnnie at first until Eva gives him a new nickname. He is a heavy drinker and is unable to maintain a job. Tar Baby spends much time alone and does not eat much. He is the first to join Shadrack in celebrating National Suicide Day.
The man who alerts Helene of her grandmother’s sickness and also arranges things after Cecile’s death.
Rochelle is Helene’s Creole speaking mother from New Orleans. She is a former prostitute and smells like gardenias. Helene and Nel meet Rochelle when they travel to New Orleans for Cecile’s funeral.
Ajax (A. Jacks, Albert Jacks)
Officially known as A. Jacks. Ajax is a 21-year0old man who is loved by women. He plays pool and is envied for the way he curses. He is one of seven children and the son of a conjure woman. Ajax becomes one of Sula’s lovers.
Patsy and Valentine
Friends of Hannah Peace. Both die during the tunnel collapse on January 3, 1941.
Chicken Little is a little boy Nel teases for picking his nose. In a horrible accident, Chicken Little falls into the river and drowns.
Jude marries Nel at 20 years of age. He is a waiter and also sings tenor in the Mount Zion’s Men’s Quartet. Jude abandons Nel and his children.
Rekus is Sula's father. He dies when she is three years old, leading to the family's return to Medallion.
A 5-year old boy who arrives at Sula's house asking for bottles. When he falls down Sula's stairs, the neighborhood accuses Sula of pushing him.
Sula Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Sula is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Sula’s death leaves the neighbors without a scapegoat or an example against which they can govern their actions. Sula, as the social pariah of the Bottom, long symbolized everyone’s conception of evil and badness. Her death leaves people without a...
Sula's home is unconventional and vibrant. Sula sees home as a place that transcends the nuclear family. Her home was multigenerational and matriarchal. Home meant a sense of place where women were valued rather than subjugated. Sula internalized...