The Significance Of Shadrack In Morrison’s Sula

1297 words - 5 pages

The people of the Bottom in Medallion, Ohio “knew Shadrack was crazy but that did not mean that he didn't have any sense or, even more important, that he had no power” (Morrison 15). In Toni Morrison’s novel Sula, Shadrack is a brief, but largely considerable character. His significance stems from the fact that he personifies one of Morrison’s main themes in the novel, which is the need for order, as well as that he serves as human embodiment of the community’s repressed feelings. As is often the case with any introverted emotion, the townspeople’s eventual acceptance of Shadrack causes both liberation and grief. However, Shadrack is not a sage, omnipotent being; he is merely an undiluted representation of the thoughts which others within the community cannot and will not express.
Appropriately, Shadrack is the first major character to be introduced in the novel, much as an unfiltered thought is the first that comes to mind in any given situation. He is an ancestral presence - a husband, a father, a provider dispensed by the gods to “always” be there as the voice in the back of one’s head, constantly present and ever providing the most candid guidance (Lewis 92). People of the Bottom fear Shadrack not only because of his peculiar behavior but also because he does not look like them. Earlier, while he was in the hospital recovering from shell-shock “his fingers began to grow in higgly piggly fashion like Jack's beanstalk, all over the tray” (Morrison 9). This is especially significant as, although Shadrack grew up in the Bottom, he began to look different as he grew older and, subsequently, the community began to fear him. In a similar fashion, as one matures the inner voice becomes more precise and defined and, often, is ignored in lieu of emotions which are more familiar and comforting, though potentially juvenile.
Shadrack’s reputation as the town outcast is, arguably, due to his role as the symbolic vessel of the townspeople’s repression. Pushed, both literally and figuratively, to the edge of town, Shadrack only emerges into the consciousness of the citizens during his annual parade down Carpenter’s Road. This is largely emblematic of the human tendency to suppress one’s true feelings until they emerge magnificently. Even so, the people of the Bottom hide in their homes and shut their windows, refusing to acknowledge their own true thoughts. Furthermore, Shadrack’s recognition of Sula, despite her distinction as the town pariah, is indicative of her overall acceptance within the community. Just how Shadrack attempted to control his fear, the community refuses to expel Sula out of fear, instead choosing to accept her presence, even if it is only as a source of gossip and as a scapegoat for resentment (Foulks 19). It is noteworthy that, upon Sula’s death, the townspeople turn this same gossip and resentment upon each other for lack of a common victim.
Shadrack represents the imposition of the outside world on the black people of Medallion, in...

Find Another Essay On The Significance of Shadrack in Morrison’s Sula

The Role of Race in the Development of the Utopian Societies Featured in Toni Morrison’s Paradise

1997 words - 8 pages The Patriarchs of Ruby and Their Ideology of Masculinity Being aware of the oppression and humiliation endured by the Old Fathers followed by the reclamation and revitalization of their identity allows for a certain understanding of the current ideology of Ruby. Founded in 1950, the town is named after one of the community’s women who died because she was refused medical care in a white hospital. Using the woman’s name for the town is meant

The Role Race Plays in the Development of the Utopian Societies Featured in Toni Morrison’s Paradise

2298 words - 9 pages have their own versions of paradise and they all teach different theories about where it is located and how one can reach it. In Toni Morrison’s Paradise, entitled after this harmonious and divine place, she examines a specific group’s attempts to create and sustain a man-made version of this idyllic haven and the consequences and complications that can arise from this artificial paradise. The term ‘utopia’ is connected with the concept of an

The Juxtaposition of Ruth Foster and Pilate Dead in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon

1165 words - 5 pages Toni Morrison juxtaposes Ruth Foster and Pilate Dead, in Song of Solomon, to highlight the separate roles they play in the protagonist Milkman’s journey. Early in the novel Morrison, uses the juxtaposition of Ruth Foster and Pilate dead, when she tells of the flight of Mr. Robert Smith from Mercy Hospital. Ruth Foster, not yet described as such, is known as the “dead doctor’s daughter” (5). During this scene her insignificance is made clear

Poverty and Social Class in Arthur Morrison’s A Child of the Jago

1883 words - 8 pages Arthur Morrison’s A Child of the Jago (1896) is intrinsically linked to the social class system and poverty. The novel is set and published during the late Victorian age, a period in which the working class experienced a relentless struggle against the harsh realities of social and working conditions. Moreover, in his paper The Working Class in Britain 1850-1939, John Benson highlights the disparities between the poor and the economy

Jude and Ajax: Drawing a Picture of Masculinity in Sula

862 words - 4 pages A foil character in literature is a character that shows opposite characteristics, in order to emphasize qualities of the other character. In Toni Morrison’s novel Sula, we see several examples of character foils. The main characters, Sula and Nel are foils of the other, two opposite halves that together make a whole. In another example, we have another set of foil characters; characters that are so different that together they tell what it is

The Significance of the Blues in History

2204 words - 9 pages music. According to Douglas Henry Daniels in his “The significance of Blues for American History,” the blues are singular significance for understanding the American historical experience, which has the tragi-comic characteristics of music (Daniels 14). The blues are a truthful depiction of the spirit of the American experience. The blues will continue to inform future generations of how we as Americans have moved forward and how the blues

The Significance of the Players in Hamlet

935 words - 4 pages The Significance of the Players in Hamlet      Most characters in Hamlet present themselves as something other than themselves or how as we, the audience, or another character thinks they should appear.  Two of the main characters in this play, Hamlet and King Claudius, are constantly acting as something other than their true nature.    Ironically, the characters that invoke changes in Hamlet and King Claudius to reveal their real

The Significance of the Handkerchief in Othello

1079 words - 4 pages How can one small piece of fabric manifest so much havoc? In William Shakespeare’s Othello, there is great significance of a powerful symbol that completely alters the fate of the story. “In the case of the handkerchief, it stands for several things, things that cannot be seen” (Hacht 663). This symbol, the handkerchief, is given to Desdemona by Othello, as a token of his love, and to their new beginnings as husband and wife. However, the

Response to the Injustice System in Toni Morrison's Sula

2688 words - 11 pages African American. It uses them, obliterates their hopes, and when they are damaged beyond repair, it leaves others to pick up the broken pieces, and all without an apology. Shadrack has witnessed, participated, and experienced things that no man should, so it is of little wonder he leads the communal cry of rage. After the death of Sula Peace, things do not change as the people expect. They have placed their hope in enduring her evil, and they

The Significance of Language in Dramatic Productions

2043 words - 8 pages The Significance of Language in Dramatic Productions The significance of language in any dramatic production, or indeed any piece of performance art, be it song, poetry or whatever, is undoubtedly of great importance, as it is not only the medium through which

"The Significance of Myth in Ceremony"

1421 words - 6 pages The Significance of Myth in CeremonyMany people in our culture misunderstand the function of myth. We typically assume that there are two kinds of narrative, completely distinct from one another: a journalistic compilation of facts, all literally true and verifiable, or stories spun by a fiction writer for the purpose of entertainment only. Myth, we assume, falls resoundingly into the latter group. While primitive and superstitious people may

Similar Essays

Transcendence And Transgression In Toni Morrison’s Sula

1835 words - 8 pages reject Sula is Shadrack- a war veteran who spends a year in lunatic asylum. “It was not death or dying that frightened him, but the unexpectedness of both” (14 ), which ultimately leads to his declaration of the “National Suicide Day” to be celebrated on January the third of every year. Shadrack shows repect to Sula even after others reject her, “his visitor, his company, his guest, his social life, his woman, his daughter, his friend – all hung

The Importance Of Names In Toni Morrison’s Song Of Solomon

891 words - 4 pages The Importance of Names in Toni Morrison’s Song Of Solomon Toni Morrison’s award-winning novel Song of Solomon is full of very interesting, deep symbolism. Macon Dead III, nicknamed “Milkman,” is a very symbolic character throughout the novel. His character is not only symbolic, for so is his name. Also, Milkman’s paternal aunt, Pilate, has an extremely significant and symbolic role in the novel. To her father, she represents the child

On The Categories Of Love In Toni Morrison’s Love

1351 words - 6 pages love, and Eros love are clearly expressed by characters In Toni Morrison’s Love. Junior Viviane’s love for Cosey can be considered as more or less an agape love. Heed and Christine are characters who expressed phileo love, even though they later became enemies. The romantic relationship between Junior and Romen is a perfect example of eros love. As the novel begins, agape love was expressed. Junior Viviane developed a strong affection for Bill

Metamorphosis In Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

2672 words - 11 pages The transition from childhood to adulthood is not as clear cut as the physical traits would suggest. The female transition is no exception. Culture has a major role in deciding when the change occurs. Some mark a specific age as the point of passage while others are known to acknowledge physical changes. Regardless, cultures around the world understand that there is a distinct difference between the two. Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye tells