Like the biblical Eve, Eva is the mother of all, which explains the number and variety of people living with her in her house. Feeling personally responsible for each of them, Eva frets over the deweys while worrying incessantly about the way the newlywed boarders are treating one another. However, unlike the biblical Eve, Eva takes life as well as gives it: She saves her son Plum's life but later kills him, and she comes close to sacrificing her own life in an attempt to save her daughter Hannah, yet perhaps she smothers Hannah in the ambulance en route to the hospital.
God-like, Eva sits on her makeshift throne in a regal position, appearing to be high above everyone else in her rocking chair atop a child's wagon. The only person in the novel whom Eva succumbs to is Sula, who gains guardianship of her grandmother and then consigns her to a nursing home, an act that outrages the black community, although they can do nothing about it.