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Toni Morrison Sula Essay

2650 words - 11 pages

A major theme running through Sula by Toni Morrison is good versus evil and the fact that what people think is evil may be good and vice versa. Good versus evil is presented in forms that are interpreted on the surface and beneath the surface which gives it multiple meanings. The relationship between Sula and Nel, the main characters of this novel, is the main expression of this theme. The friendship of Sula and Nel creates a presence of good and evil within their relationship to each other and their community. "Their bond represents a binary concept that connects them as a single unit but separates them into two distinct ideas of good and evil" (Grant 97). In the Bottom where most of the story took place, the dominant view of evil is society's conception. While society's view of evil is really based on the disapproval of anything that would break down the way society works, Sula the protagonist of the book's view on evil is based on a different perspective and she acts according to a different set of standard. Through common stories, good and evil are portrayed through protagonist and antagonist view, creating morals and opinions, and how society's views have changed over time. Although society sets standards of what is considered good and evil, our thoughts, perceptions and actions really determine what is good and evil to us, because Sula, Nel, Shadarack and Eva are seen as good and evil for their actions and the thoughts behind them.The question of right versus wrong in the novel can be traced all the way back to the childhoods of Sula and Nel. As the two girls played with Chicken Little, a young child from the neighborhood, who was seeking seeks attention from the two girls and through a bit of rough-housing. Sula was swinging him around by his hands. She accidentally threw him into the river, and he drowned. In the novel, it explains the innocence of the incidence "When he slipped from her hands and sailed away out over the water they could still hear his bubbly laughter… The pressure of his hard and tight little fingers was still in Sula's palms…They expected him to come back up, laughing. Both girls stared at the water" (Morrison 60-61). Though the society's view on morality considers this as murder, the circumstances justify themselves to a more moderate sentence as the young girls clearly intend no harm. "In this way, this incident may be judged as evil if one does not consider the intentions of the "criminal". It is through knowledge that goodness, or innocence, is observed" (Pessoni 7). Sula and Nel decided not to tell anyone the truth about what had happened. The result is that Sula goes through life believing that she is evil because she killed Chicken Little; in contrast, Nel judges herself to be good because it was not she who caused Chicken Little's death even though she witnessed it.At a young age, the two young girls found comfort in each other's companionship and they were able to hold on to their innocence...

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