Transcendence And Transgression In Toni Morrison’s Sula

1835 words - 8 pages

The Black women writers like Alice Walker, Paule Marshall, Toni Cade Banbara and Toni Morrison have always propagated the black feminist consciousness through their works. By giving voice to the voiceless, these writers renounce all the negative stereotypical images of black women. Morrison is an important writer among the league who has always startled her readers with her creative powers by giving her work such a finesse that one feels 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 ...view middle of the document...

Sula is an attack on all such notions wherein the protagonist aims for her self attainment by denying to fall under the categorization that is assigned to her. The friendship between Nel and Sula is an attack on the cliché of male – female friendship.
Yet she (Sula) and Nel are very much alike. They complement each other. They support each other. I suppose the two of them together could have made a wonderful single human being. They are like a Janus head. (Parker 253)
Through their friendship, Morrison presents her critical stance towards heterosexuality that bespeaks of the domination of men and suppression of female. However, Nel does fall into such relationship by marrying Jude which ultimately leads to her alienation as a result of her submission. Sula on the other hand, refuses to marry as she believes marriage is nothing but the extermination of one’s identity. After returning to Medalliion, Eva-her grandmother, asks her about her marriage, Sula replies, “I don’t want to make somebodyelse. I want to make myself.” She abjures marriage, children and all such attachments that pose limitation to the role of black women. She enters the church scantily dressed and moreover, she sends her grandmother to the old folks home thus subverting the doctrines of the role of daughters and wives. Notwithstanding

her transgression, the community considers her as a pariah and outlaw. What is considered as a bold departure by black males Sula’s interracial sex though when it comes to white women, they would not give it a second thought. The whole people unite in regarding Sula as an evil as she transgresses their impositions, she negates all the limitations and her only concern is her belief in her own ‘Self’. She doesn’t need anybody’s shoulder for herself and acts according to her own will. She is an embodiment of the resilience and willpower among women which paves the way for their survival amidst the patriarchal society. Sula’s faith in herself is delineated in the novel through her death scene. Her conversation with Nel prior to her death is a critique of all those women who take up their conventional roles unquestioningly. She is proud of her loneliness and hence dies peacefully.
Nel : “I always understood how you could take a man. Now I understand why you can’t”.
Sula: “Is that what I’m supposed to do? Spend my life keeping a man? They ain’t worth more than me.”
In presenting her black feminist perspective, Morrison depicts her female characters as overpowering male characters. Eva Peace the senior woman character in the novel, is a matriarch figure who makes her own rules without anyone’s intervention. Eva transcends the image of a traditional mother by putting her son “Sweet Plum” so as to prevent his life from getting wasted by drug addiction. Being abandoned by her husband BoyBoy, she leaves Medallion for eighteen months and returns with an amputated leg. Eva is an epitome of black woman’s survival without the interference of any male....

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