Sula


In modern society, people have a tendency to show that individuality is good and that they should show it throughout their lives. In Sula, a significant thematic focus of novelist Toni Morrison is to imply- as evidenced by her characterization of Sula and Nel- that spacing ones self from other persons or things generally reveals that one is not content with themselves. One indication of Morrison’s intentions, in this regard, is her creation of showing who Sula really is. Secondly, Morrison seems to have portray the only other important characters as having an absences in their life as well, through nearly the whole novel, their relationships with each other aren’t quite what they seem to be.


In regard to Sula, who is the main character, she is an irrational and transient character. She does what she wants to do. She is impulsive and disregards the feeling of other people. As critic Kelly Winters would describe “she is a strange child, defiant, and different from the other children” (245). Surely the novelist decision, to use these particular words, indicates Winters intent to criticize Sula as a child who is who she is. That she was really born that way and that she is apart from everyone else leaving her lonely. Sula initially got the lack of warmth from her mother. Hannah Peace passed it to Sula and Eva Peace passed it to her daughter Hannah. Winters also says that “she has become just like Hannah and Eva, hardened and wary, and throughout the book she remains detached from other people as her mother has always.


In the novel the narrator reveals that Sula grew up in an atmosphere of emotional separation between mothers and daughters in her family. “I love her [Sula]. I just don’t like her, that’s the thing.” (57) Hannah is telling Hester that she loved Sula but she didn’t really like her. Sula overheard her talking and from that everything really went haywire from there. Having had an unrestricted household such as the Peace family, with little emotional attachment and moral responsibilities, caused Sula to become impetuous and independent. “On one level she [Sula] refuses any connection to history and family continuity.”(Bengal 1813) Another Critic Kate Bengal shows that Sula doesn’t really want to be apart of her family at all. Her grandmother tells her that she should find a man and that she should make some kids and Sula tells her that “she would rather make herself.”(92)


Even beyond the self indulged Sula, Morrison seems unwavering in her concern for the absences of other characters in the novel. For example, Nel on the other hand, she appears to be the rational and balanced one of the two girls. Her household is very conformist and proper, but also lacks in the emotional attachments as like Sula’s household. “Since there was no Catholic church in Medallion then, she joined the most conservative black church.”(18) She marries and gives into her mother and the town’s expectations. Her mother has constantly attempts to destroy her spirit and imagination. “Under Helene’s [Nel’s mother] hand the girl became obedient and polite. Any enthusiasms that little Nel had were calmed by her mother until she drove her daughters imagination underground.”(18) For Helene there was always something for Nel to do besides play with Sula. “Don’t just sit there, honey, you could be pulling your nose.”(28)


Far greater than Nel there is another lonely character, Shadrack, who doesn’t know who he is either. He comes home from the war with nothing “no past, no language, no tribe, no source, no address book, no comb, no pencil, no clock, no pocket handkerchief, no rug, no bed, no can opener, no faded past card, no soap, no key, no tobacco pouch, no soiled underwear and nothing nothing nothing to do. He didn’t really have anywhere to go. He lived in his father’s old cabin. He didn’t even have any friends. The people in the town called him “crazy and worrisome.”(15)e


They, Sula and Nel, both represent what the other is not, but in all reality they are both lonely. Morrison explains an interview that “To miss Sula is to recognize her occupation in the Bottom: what she did there and how she