To Hell With Dying Characters

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To Hell With Dying Summary & Study Guide Description

To Hell With Dying Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on To Hell With Dying by Alice Walker.

Mr. Sweet

An older black man who suffers from diabetes. He is an alcoholic, fisherman, and guitar player, a beloved neighbor to the narrator's family. He plays and wrestles with the children and lavishes praises on the narrator when she is a child. Mr. Sweet is a nice old man who also suffers from bouts of depression. He at many times is at the brink of death but always pulls through once the neighboring family has given him a "revival." At the revival he feels loved, happy, and glad that the children attempt to immitate him on his guitar. Mr. Sweet has a special bond and love with the narrator. Mr. Sweet dies a very old man, but is surrounded with love.

Narrator/Mr. Sweet's favorite

In the beginning of this story, a very young girl who looks to Mr. Sweet as a beloved playmate. She comforts him when he cries and tickles him on his deathbed until he laughs. She feels like a gorgeous princess around Mr. Sweet, who lavishes her with praises while others say she looks like a monkey. She truly believes that Mr. Sweet is dying and that only by playing her part can she save him. Due to the many successful revivals she has participated in, she never gains an appreciation of death or an understanding of the finality of it. In the end, when the revival "fails," she (a grown woman now) comes to the realization that Mr. Sweet was her first love.

Narrator's father

The father of the narrator and friend to Mr. Sweet. He has a vital part to play in the "revivals," as he gives the children their cue by saying, "To hell with dying, man!" and "These children want Mr. Sweet!"

Narrator's mother

The mother of the narrator and friend to Mr. Sweet. She allows Mr. Sweet to play with her children even though he is always drunk. She also attends the "revivals" with her family.

Narrator's brother

The narrator's brother who also participates in these "revivals." He loves Mr. Sweet and plays with him. The brother's part in the revivals is to immitate Mr. Sweet on the guitar and sing one of his songs. He is unable to attend the last revival, for he is in the war in Asia.

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