Cecile is Helene's strict, religious grandmother. She raised Helene from birth, and arranged Helene's marriage to Wiley Wright, Cecile's grand-nephew. When Cecile dies, Helene takes her 10-year-old daughter Nel to New Orleans for the funeral.

Chicken Little

Chicken Little is a neighborhood boy. One day, Sula playfully swings him around by his hands. She accidentally loses her grip, and he falls into the river and drowns.

The Deweys

The Deweys are Eva's three informally adopted children, all of whom she named Dewey. They quickly became inseparable from one another. Although they look completely different, people have trouble telling them apart. They never grow into full adult size.

Old Willy Fields

Old Willy Fields is an orderly at the local hospital.

Mr. Finley

Mr. Finley is a resident of the Bottom. Not long after Sula returns to the Bottom after a ten year absence, he chokes to death on a chicken bone.

Jude Greene

Jude Greene is Nel's husband and works as a waiter in the Hotel Medallion.

Ajax (Albert Jacks)

Ajax is the oldest of his mother's seven sons. Ajax has many lovers who often fight over him in the streets. He is always nice to his lovers, but he finds them uninteresting. The only true loves of his life are his mother, a conjure woman, and airplanes. At age twenty-one, he is a beautiful, graceful "pool haunt." Other men envy his "magnificently foul mouth." It is not that he curses often, but he has a way of infusing the most ordinary words with power.


The daughter of Helene, in adolescence she develops an intense friendship with Sula. Nel marries Jude, and is later abandoned by him.

BoyBoy Peace

BoyBoy Peace was Eva's husband. He abandoned her when their three children were small.

Eva Peace

Eva Peace was abandoned by her husband, BoyBoy, when their children were young. She struggled to keep her family away from starvation, but she succeeded only through the kindness of her neighbors. Eva later became the vibrant matriarch over a busy household, which included Hannah, Sula, Ralph, Tar Baby, the Deweys, and a constant stream of boarders.

Hannah Peace

Hannah Peace is Eva's oldest child. She moved back in with her mother after her husband, Rekus, died when their daughter, Sula, was three years old. Like her mother, Hannah loves "maleness." She has frequent, brief affairs with the men who take her fancy. Many women resent her, but they don't hate her. Men don't gossip about her because she is a kind and generous woman. They often defend her against the harsh words of their wives.

Pearl Peace

Pearl Peace is Eva's second child. She is actually named after Eva, but Eva gave her the nickname "Pearl." Pearl married at age 14 and moved to Flint, Michigan. She occasionally writes unremarkable letters about the everyday details of marriage and motherhood.

Ralph Peace

Ralph Peace, nicknamed Plum, is Eva's youngest and best-loved child. He fights in World War I, returning home with troubling memories and a heroin addiction.

Sula Peace

Sula Peace is Hannah's daughter. She has a birthmark over one of her eyes. Depending on their perception of her, people think the birthmark looks like different things: a stemmed rose, a snake, or Hannah's ashes. When they are young girls, Sula and Nel become close friends.


Rekus was Hannah's husband and Sula's father. He died when Sula was three years old.


Rochelle is Helene Wright's mother. She is a Creole prostitute in New Orleans. Rochelle played little part in Helene's upbringing.


Shadrack is a World War I veteran from the Bottom. He spends two years in a hospital after he suffers a traumatic experience in the War. He has a terror of unexpected death, so he institutes National Suicide Day. Every year on January 3, he marches through the Bottom declaring that people should commit suicide or, if they want, kill each other.

Mr. and Mrs. Suggs

Mr. and Mrs. Suggs are Eva's neighbors. Not long after BoyBoy abandoned her, Eva left her children with them, promising that she would return within a few hours.

Tar Baby

Tar Baby is a white alcoholic who lives in Eva Peace's home. She gave him his nickname as a joke.


Teapot is a neglected, malnourished child living in the Bottom.

Helene Wright

Helene Wright is the daughter of a New Orleans Creole prostitute, Rochelle. Helene's strictly religious grandmother, Cecile, raised her until she was safely married off to Wiley Wright at age 16. Helene lives a comfortable middle class life in the Bottom. After nine years of marriage, she gave birth to her only child, Nel.

Wiley Wright

Wiley Wright is Cecile's grand-nephew and Helene's husband. He is a seaman and is often away from home.

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