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Definitions Of Self In Community In Morrison's Sula And Song Of Solomon

7007 words - 28 pages

Definitions of Self In Community in Sula and Song of Solomon 

    "In that place, where they tore the nightshade and blackberry patches from their roots to make room for the Medallion City Golf Course, there once was a neighborhood" (Sula 1). Toni Morrison begins the novel Sula with these powerful words, describing more than a physical place, but a spiritual place where a community once stood. She begins with the destruction of the community, ultimately beginning at the end because her novel traces the history of this community. In Song of Solomon. Morrison takes the opposite path. She traces the history of self that ultimately ends in a type of destruction when Milkman leaps off the cliff. In both novels, however, she explores the tension between self and community and the sacrifices each demand from the other. Morrison's characters are both empowered and restricted by the heavy sense of community that operates in her novels. In all of her novels the characters are pulled along by and enmeshed in the communities in which they live. In Sula and Song of Solomon the struggles of me community and me characters with in the framework of community are me driving force behind much of me novel. Both the characters and the larger communities are irrevocably changed throughout me course of the novels the as tension to define both individual and community surfaces.

From the opening lines of Sula which foreshadows me ultimate deem of me community, Morrison calls attention to me sense of community in the Bottom. In "Eruptions of Funk. Susan Willis says, "The opening line from Sula might as well have been me novel's conclusion, so complete is the destructioni it describes. This is the community Morrison is writing to reclaim" (315). Although, she begins reclaiming the Bottom community by defining it through its destruction, thus forcing me reader to view me community throughout me rest of the novel through this dark screen of a community pulled from its roots, nonetheless she leaves no doubt in the reader's mind mat there was a whole community at one time.

They are going to raze the Time and a Half Pool Hall, where feet in long tan shoes once pointed from rung chairs. A steel ball will knock to dust Irene's Palace of cosmetology, where women used to lean their heads back on sink trays and doze while Irene lathered Nu Nile into their hair. Men in khaki work domes will pry loose the slats of Reba's Grill, where me owner cooked in her hat because she couldn't remember me ingredients without it (1).

The details of everyday life that Morrison gives calls the community out of the image of destruction as Morrison begins her journey to "reclaim this community." She begins her reclamation by reminding the readers that these are not abstract geographical places that are being destroyed, but rather gathering places for a community made up of unique individuals. Morrison doesn't allow this community to be faceless and she doesn't allow the reader to...

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