Many people commit actions that are unfavorable to society. Society, in turn, usually scorns these delinquents wishing that they would be expunged from all civilization. Morrison’s Sula, for example, shows how happy people get when a wicked person has left society. It says, “The death of Sula Peace was the best news folks up at the Bottom had…”(Morrison p. 141) Yet, can we live in a world without thieves, cheaters, and liars? If there were no wrongdoers, how would we know what is good or bad? How would we know what makes us sad or happy when there are no bad things in this world? And, to how far are we going to say what is wrong or inappropriate for today’s society? The need for licentious and sinister people is a very difficult idea to comprehend, but the world can’t live without them. This idea is an underlying yet complex theme within Toni Morrison’s Sula. Although difficult and perplexing, Morrison attempts to show how the presence of evil can have not only a negative effect to society, but also a righteous one. Throughout Sula, Morrison demonstrates that evil serves a purpose in society and that evil can have a positive effect on life.
What is considered evil? Evil tends to be any action or deed that is morally wrong and hinders the realization of good. Killing, adultery, stealing, and beating, are just some examples of actions that are considered immoral in the American culture. Consequently, how does one inherit immoral and inappropriate manners? Parents often attempt to shape their children into what they may think is appropriate in society. However, parents sometimes fail to realize that their kids tend to pick up some of their bad habits. Sula, for
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example, learned that it was okay to sleep with married men. She led her life sleeping with the married men and never cared to deal with the emotions of making love and commitment. But where did she learn to commit adultery? Her mother, Hannah, did the exact same thing; she also slept with married men. Morrison said, “Seeing her step so easily into the pantry and emerge looking precisely as she did when she entered, only happier, taught Sula that sex was pleasant and frequent, but otherwise unremarkable.”(p. 44). Children tend to acquire the same manners and ideals as their parents. Morrison even said, “Eva’s arrogance and Hannah’s self-indulgence merged in her…”(p. 118)
Although it is prevalent that evil creates more evil, Morrison insinuates the fact that wicked and heinous deeds are sometimes necessary. Eva, for example, had killed her only son to save him from his misery. Morrison said, “His habits were much like Tar Baby’s but there were no bottles, and Plum was sometimes cheerful and animated…Then he began to steal from them…”(p. 45) Now, Tar Baby wasn’t someone to be compared to because he was an alcoholic. In addition, Plum was taking drugs. Morrison said, “It was Hannah who found the bent spoon black from steady cooking.”p. 45) It seemed that the life on the road and in war had caused him to take this awful route in life. Eva expected a man to come back after the war, but Plum came back an unstructured, helpless little boy. She said, “I done everything I could to make him leave me and go on to go and live and be a man but he wouldn’t and I had to keep him out so I just thought of a way he could die like a man….” (p. 72) Even though there really isn’t any justification for murder, Morrison displays how it was necessary to take the extreme action. Plum was suffering
too much and needed to find peace, and the only way for him to get peace from his
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tribulations was death.
In addition, children sometimes see the bad things their elders are doing and in turn, try not to grow up with the same bad habits. Helene, for example, grew up with a mother who was a whore and who cared little for her. Morrison said, “Helene was born behind those shutters, daughter of a Creole whore who worked there.” (p.17) Helene hated her mother for her licentious ways. After Nel said that Helene’s mother’s skin