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Morrison's View on Gender in the Black Community Between 1919 and 1965

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In the novel “Sula”, Toni Morrison presents a very different view on gender in the black community between 1919 and 1965. Written in 1973 after the Civil Rights movement and during the feminist movement, Morison breaks down the traditional gender barriers from as early as 1919, proving that black females were “women” much sooner than their white “lady” counterparts. Morrison depicts matriarchal homes where the women are the dominant figures who even go as far as to emasculate their male opposites. All the women are presented as being independent due to being either abandoned by their husbands or refusing to conform to the convention of marriage. The relationship between Nel and Sula goes far beyond the bounds of a normal relationship. They are doubles or ‘doppelgangers’ whose bonds are severed when Nel conforms to the expectations of the community and marries Jude. Both are able to express the desires or dreams of the other and Sula escapes from Medallion, just as Nel wished when she was a child.

In “Sula” Toni Morrison attempts to break the traditional stereotype of women as mothers and caregivers as she portrays strong, independent women who are able to survive without a male partner. Women in black communities not only had to endure being women in a male dominated society but were black women in society dominated by white males. Yet, despite this, Morrison’s women are very much independent either by choice such as Sula and Hannah, or are forced into it by the betrayal of their partners; Nel and Eva. Nel’s mother, Helene is a single mother to a certain extent; her husband works away from home and Helene is depicted as being very independent. Eva expresses her matriarchal dominance throughout the story yet is only able to use h...

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...s World of Fiction. The Whitson Publishing

Company, Troy, New York, 1993.

McKay, Nellie. Critical Essays on Toni Morrison. G.K Hall and Co., Boston, Massachusetts, 1988.

Morrison, Toni. Sula. London: Random House. 1973.

Otten, Terry. The Crime of Innocence in the Fiction of Toni Morrison. University

of Missouri Press. Columbia and London, 1989.

Peach, Linda. Toni Morrison. Macmillan, 1995.

Bibliography

Carmean, Karen. Toni Morrison’s World of Fiction. The Whitson Publishing

Company, Troy, New York, 1993.

McKay, Nellie. Critical Essays on Toni Morrison. G.K Hall and Co., Boston, Massachusetts, 1988.

Morrison, Toni. Sula. London: Random House. 1973.

Otten, Terry. The Crime of Innocence in the Fiction of Toni Morrison. University

of Missouri Press. Columbia and London, 1989.

Peach, Linda. Toni Morrison. Macmillan, 1995.
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