Toni Morrison's Sula Essay

1528 words - 6 pages

Sula

Toni Morrison's Sula is a novel that has a theme about the nature of evil. The story follows the lives of two black female friends who present differing views on evil. On one hand, we have society's conventional view of evil represented by the character of Nel and also seen in the Bottom's disapproval of Sula. The other view of evil is seen through the character of Sula and through her actions, which conflict with traditional society. The friendship of Sula and Nel is how the author conveys her message about evil in the relationship. In the relationship the two different conceptions of evil mix and create an essentially neutral mixture. By looking at Nel's and Sula's friendship and the two different views of evil that they have, the author shows us the subjective and relative nature of evil and how friendship can overcome any evil.

In the Bottom, the dominant view of evil is society's conception. Its guidelines for good and bad behavior can be seen through society's reaction to Sula. Her return to the Bottom after being gone for ten years is greeted with the same way one would greet a pest, a plague or an illness. The novel shows society's negative view of her when it describes how Sula arrived "accompanied by a plague of robins" (Morrison 89). Her time spent in the Bottom is grouped with other evils the "floods, white people, tuberculosis, famine and ignorance" (Morrison 90) and her stay in the town is called the "evil days"(89), because the town views Sula as an evil force. The reason the town saw her as evil is because of her sexual habits. Sula herself knows that the townspeople "despised her and ... framed their hatred as disgust for the easy way she lay with men"(122), because being faithful in a marriage is one of the town's most important principles. Even worse is the one "unforgivable thing", the accusation that "that Sula slept with white men"(112), offending the town's racial pride. Not only are the residents horrified by her sexual openness, but they are also offended by her directness. To annoy her neighbors, Sula "came to their church suppers without underwear" (114) and even more, "they believed she was laughing at their God" (115). Once again, we see through the town's disapproval of Sula what it holds dear. If that wasn’t enough, she angers the town even more by openly mocking their beliefs. Sula's crime is not only her actions, but also the fact that she is not even slightly ashamed of them; she is evil because she has defied society's laws and has openly mocked them by refusing to even recognize their rule over her.

Absorbed in this conception of evil her whole life, it is Nel who becomes the embodiment of the town's moral code when she gets married and is "one of them" (120), meaning a member of mainstream society. Instantly, her views become the same with those of the town and she "belonged to the town and all of its ways" (120). She is especially offended by Sula's behavior, because...

Find Another Essay On Toni Morrison's Sula

Transcendence and Transgression in Toni Morrison's Sula

1468 words - 6 pages engulfed in her storyline. Awarded the Nobel Prize in 1993, her novels are replete with African American cultural aura : myths, symbols, festivals and the name that she assigns to her characters. Sula (1973) is the second novel of Toni Morrison which is set in her Medallion, Ohio. The novel involved a lot of critical attention as far as her depiction of Sula is concerned. Sula, the protagonist of this eponymous novel, is unlike the other female

Friendship in Sula Essay

1230 words - 5 pages I'm sure you have not only heard, but also used the famous phrase "opposites attract." The statement stands true not only in physics and chemistry, but also in relationships and friendships. We tend to be attracted to people with personalities that differ from ours, so life would be more interesting, and desire the opposite of what we have. A perfect example of this, is Sula and Nel, best friends from Toni Morrison's novel, "Sula", where the

Frustration and Denial in Morrison's Sula

764 words - 3 pages   Frustration and Denial in Morrison's Sula           A book which is most celebrated for its tale about friendship is found to have a more important theme and role in literature. "In Search of Self: Frustration and Denial in Toni Morrison's Sula," the author Maria Nigro believes Sula has much more important themes in modern literature. "Sula celebrates many lives: It is the story of the

The Effect of a Mother

1162 words - 5 pages Psychology in Sula.” Black American Literature Forum 24.1 (Mar 1990): 21-49. Hirsch, M. The Mother/Daughter Plot – Narrative, Psychoanalysis, Feminism. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989. Morrison, Toni. Sula. New York: Knopf;, 1974. Print. Sokoloff, Janice M. “Intimations of Matriarchal Age: Notes on the Mythical Eva in Toni Morrison's Sula” Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 16, No. 4 (Jun., 1986), pp. 429-434 < http://www.jstor.org/stable/2784198>

African American Folklore

2212 words - 9 pages - is what's important"(Bakerman 122).In all of Morrison's novels it is easy to see her use of African- American folklore along with traditional fiction. In the novels The Bluest Eye and Sula, Morrison creates settings and characters that produce an aura of unreality, that which is directly borrowed from African- American folklore. With the aura of unreality in Morrison's characters and settings, her plots scream with real life themes such as

Use of Language in How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

3230 words - 13 pages manipulates language, its pauses and its silences as well as its words, in order to enhance the overall mood of each work. In Toni Morrison's Sula, the reader meets the protagonist, Sula, and her friend Nel when both girls are roughly twelve years old. Both girls are black, intelligent, and dreaming of their future. Early on in the novel, two events occur which change Sula's worldview. First of all, she overhears a conversation in which her mother says

Sula by Toni Morrison

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

Rubyfruit Jungle

535 words - 2 pages people should follow Molly's example of not being ashamed of who they truly are inside and the things that they want to do in their lives. If everyone goes through life not living how they want to live and not doing the things they love to do, then they won't truly live at all. In some ways I saw Molly as modeling Sula in Toni Morrison's book. She had an air of arrogance to her at times, just as I saw Sula possessing. Like Sula, Molly took

The Significance of Shadrack in Morrison’s Sula

1297 words - 5 pages , and thus the novel's voice of reason. Works Cited Foulks, Beverley. "Trial by Fire: The Theodicy of Toni Morrison in Sula." Stave, Shirley A. Toni Morrison and the Bible: Contested Intertextualities. New York: Peter Lang, 2006. 8-25. Web. Lewis, Vashti C. "African Tradition in Toni Morrison's Sula." Phylon (1987): 91-97. Web. Morrison, Toni. Sula. New York: Random House, LLC, 2007. Book. Reddy, Maureen T. "The Tripled Plot and Center of Sula

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

Good and Evil in Toni Morrison

2071 words - 8 pages they scorned her. In a way, she was more pious. There are other minor characters in which Morrison leaves the blame in the air. Eva killing her son, Ralph, to save him from himself, and his heroine addiction and Teapot's mother abusing and neglecting him until he was hurt because of Sula. In both novels, Toni Morrison does not want to point the finger at any characters. She wants to give the reader all the information about the characters' life, and their subsequent behavior and let them decide who really is at fault, if there is anyone.

Similar Essays

Toni Morrison's Sula Sula And Nel As Soulmates

2119 words - 8 pages Sula and Nel as Soulmates in Toni Morrison's Sula In examining the two distinct characters of Nel (Wright) Greene and Sula Peace from Toni Morrison's Sula, a unique individual soul emerges from the two women. This soul takes into account good, bad, and gray area qualities. They gray area qualities are needed because, while Nel exhibits more of the stereotypical "good" qualities than Sula, the stereotypes of good and bad don't fit the

Toni Morrison's Sula A Multi Faceted Interpretation Of Sula

571 words - 2 pages A Multi-faceted Interpretation of Sula         In The Apocalypse in African-American Fiction, Maxine Lavon Montgomery weaves a multi-faceted interpretation of Toni Morrison's Sula. Montgomery submits, "drawing upon an African cosmological system, Morrison maintains that although life in modern America is chaotic, it is possible to escape life in the West and recover the time of the black community's

Toni Morrison's Sula Black On White Violence Advocated In Sula

1071 words - 4 pages Black on White Violence Advocated in Sula "And white women? They chase you [black men] to every corner of the earth, feel for you under every bed. I knew a white woman wouldn't leave the house after six o'clock for fear one of you would snatch her.… They think rape soon's they see you, and if they don't get the rape they looking for, they scream it anyway just so the search won't be in vain." (Morrison) This is how Sula, the heroine of Toni

Response To The Injustice System In Toni Morrison's Sula

2688 words - 11 pages       The language, the imagery, the themes, the characters, everything in Toni Morrison's Sula, touches my heart. I want these people to win, to know goodness in their lives, to stop being small. I want the loud and long cry of rage which has no bottom or top with "circles and circles of sorrow" to end (Sula 174).  Morrison embraces the political aspects of her work without apology and freely admits to desiring to emote a reader response. She