Sula By Toni Morrison Essay

1717 words - 7 pages

Pruitt, Claude. "Circling Meaning in Toni Morrison's Sula.” African American Review 44.1/2 (2011): 115-129. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
Summary: In Claude Pruitt’s article on Sula, Pruitt describes the circular meaning of the text using her own perceptions and the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Ralph Ellison’s the Invisible Man. Pruitt reads the text in circles and circles to find the subtext which she believes provides for its meaning. Pruitt’s article discusses how Morrison circles around the subject of the text to showcase the culturally focused discretions displayed in the 1900’s. She mentions the “nigger joke” that Morrison includes at the beginning of the ...view middle of the document...

How their history seems to depict their future. This is shown through the mothers’ actions in correlation with their children’s actions. In Sula Helena’s determination to run from her past and her family becomes her circle of sorrow and it in turn causes Nel’s circle to form. Hannah’s sexual relations and Eva’s lack thereof plagues Sula by putting Sula’s circle of sorrow into motion. Pruitt discusses how these circles indicate black women’s history in relation to the black community. The character’s hardships, particularly the women’s, showcase how women’s needs should have been meet in the black community when they were not.
Pruitt speculates that Morrison uses Lacan principle of language to help create meaning in the text. The Lacan theory of language focuses on the speaker and the unspoken word. In Sula Morrison uses Lacan principle when Nel visits Sula’s deathbed. Both Nel and Sula dance around the unspoken word that cause them grief; this unspoken word being the Chicken Little incident. When Sula does talk about the incident with Nel she accuses Nel of not acting correctly in the situation and that maybe because she was so calm when Little died she was more like Sula than she had thought. Although Nel becomes defensive and cannot see her best friend anymore “Sula envisions a time when Nel Wright will understand her, a time when in Lacan's terms the unspeakable will have been spoken” (121). At the end of Sula Nel cries out the scream that she held bottled up from Sula and Jude’s affair. When Nel sat in the bathroom all by herself trying to avoid the little ball of fur on the ground which she assumed was Jude, she harbors avoidance from recognizing what she truly lost the night of the affair: Sula. When Nel finally cries out the scream which she had not been able to let out those many years ago she speaks the unspoken word. She finally acknowledges Sula as her other half and accepts Sula. Although she makes this realization her sorrow has not ended but it just continues to grow again, making another sorrowful circle.
When Nel looks at Sula’s grave she looks upon her own grave because they were one in the same. Once Nel looks at Sula’s grave she looks upon her history, her identity, her place. Pruitt states that this looking back should cause the reader to realize that people should not “devalue history” (127). Morrison shows how place and history can create an identity for the characters in Sula. Morrison looked back upon African American literature to create a story within a story. Pruitt discovers that Morrison uses the circular language and narration similar to the Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison but Morrison focuses more on the African American women in society rather than the men. Sula becomes a true testament of African American literature particularly focusing on African American women.
Reflection: I found this article to be very interesting and somewhat puzzling. The article had many circles of information...

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