Hannah Peace

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Toni Morrison (b. 1931) American novelist


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Is Eva Peace's second daughter and is the mother of the eponymous protagonist in Toni Morrison's novel Sula (1974). Described as a lovely woman who is widowed young and has no intention of marrying again, it is suggested that she inherited from her mother the love of maleness or “manlove,” and that she desires and requires touching every day. Still, Hannah is careful about whom she sleeps with, because “sleeping with someone implied for her a measure of trust and definite commitment.” Thus, she is “a daylight lover” for whom sex is an ordinary, pleasurable part of life.

Sula Peace, her daughter, hears Hannah say that she loves her but does not like her and so watches with interest and curiosity as her mother burns to death because of a shift of the wind. One-legged Eva jumps out of a window in an unsuccessful attempt to save her. Years before, Hannah had asked Eva why she had burned Plum, Hannah's drug-dependent younger brother, to death and if Eva had ever loved her children. Now, ironically, Eva shows her love by trying to save Hannah from the same element that she used to destroy her son. On the day prior to Hannah's burning, Sula had acted unusually crazy, distracting Eva and Hannah from seriously contemplating their dreams—which foreshadowed death according to the dream books. Hannah's personality and lifestyle had impressed her young daughter, and the two fiery deaths that Sula witnesses ultimately scorch all the women in the novel.

Like her mother and her daughter, Hannah defied stereotypes, and she cannot be quietly assigned the role of seductress; rather, Hannah has a natural sensuality and remains independent although she would make love to practically any man.

Barbara Christian, Black Feminist Criticism, 1985.Wilfred D. Samuels and Clenora Hudson-Weems, Toni Morrison, 1990.Trudier Harris, Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison, 1991.

Betty Taylor-Thompson

Subjects: Literature.

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