Toni Morrison's Sula is a novel that tells the story of the complex situations of two very different, yet quite similar, women who represent the society of African-American females in the middle twentieth century. It allows the reader to see how people in the situation of these characters react to obstacles and events, showing a vision of American womanhood that might not be evident to people of other ethnic backgrounds and experiences. In my opinion, this novel also portrays the changing role of women in the twentieth century, and the struggle between the old ideals versus the newfound independence of women.
Throughout this work, Sula and Nel, along with their respective families, represent the opposite ends of the spectrum of the role of women. Nel and her family, with the exception of her grandmother, depict women who cling to traditional ideals about love, sex, marriage, and friendship. Sula's family, with the exception of Sula's aunt, represents women who toss aside the traditional conventions of the roles of women, and embrace freedom in the previously mentioned ideals. The absence of a strong male figure in either of the households allows for each group of women to develop themselves as women in whatever manner they choose. Each household develops differently, following the ideals of the family matriarchs, but the two complement one another and emphasize the drastic differences and similarities between the two.
Nel's mother had an odd family experience as a child. Her mother was a New Orleans prostitute, so she was raised by her grandmother to be a respectable lady, to be hardworking but submissive, and to have an emphasis on her faith. She married, as a respe...
... middle of paper ...
...men in general. The story itself begins in the year 1919, which was right before women were granted the right to vote in America in 1920. The novel was published in 1973. The women's movement was at its height at this time, influenced by works such as Simone de Beauvoir's Le Deuxieme Sexe, which was published in English in 1953. It is quite likely that Morrison, a highly educated college professor and award-winning novelist, would be familiar with the movement and these works. Although this novel is a social commentary on African-American culture, the feminist vision contained within is an equally strong commentary on the roles of African American females in the twentieth century.
Morrison, Toni. Sula. 1973. New York: Plume, 1982.
Lewis, Vashti Crutcher. "African Tradition in Toni Morrison's Sula." Phylon 48 (1987): 91-97.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Throughout the waves of liberal feminism, there is a new characteristic to be associated with the feminist group. In the first waves, it’s white, married, wealthy women who fit the criteria to be a feminist. The first wave begins in 1900 and ends around 1920, during the times of the Suffragettes. This wave began to introduce the inequalities between men and women, especially relating to voting and education. The second wave began to rise in 1950 which introduced reproductive rights, entitlement to sex, marriage, jobs, social lives, and politics.... [tags: White American, Race, Feminism, White people]
1688 words (4.8 pages)
- The Unhealthy Relationship of Sula and Nel Organisms in nature rely on one another for their well being. However, sometimes those organisms become greedy and decide to take in the relationship, instead of sharing with their symbiotic partner. Through this action, it takes on parasitic characteristics. In Toni Morrison's work, Sula, Sula Peace and Nel Wright demonstrate how a symbiotic relationship goes awry. When one partner betrays the other, by taking instead of giving, the other partner suffers.... [tags: Toni Morrison, Sula Essays]
1391 words (4 pages)
- The Judgment of Sula Toni Morrison first took the stage as a writer in 1970 with her book The Bluest Eye. In 1973 she published her second novel Sula, and she has been writing ever since. Sara Blackburn reviewed Sula for the New York Times when it first made its way onto the scene, and while she did offer a nice plot summary, her review seemed to carry a message addressed to Morrison rather than to the reader. Blackburn begins her article by discussing Morrison's first book, The Bluest Eye, claiming that because of the women's movement The Bluest Eye attracted more attention than it would have and that it was read uncritically because people were pleased with a new talent a... [tags: Sula Essays]
711 words (2 pages)
- Racism and Sexism in Toni Morrison's Sula Racism and sexism are both themes that are developed throughout the novel Sula, by Toni Morrison. The book is based around the black community of "The Bottom," which itself was established on a racist act. Later the characters in this town become racist as well. This internalized racism that develops may well be a survival tactic developed by the people over years, which still exists even at the end of the novel. The two main characters of this novel are Nel Wright and Sula Peace.... [tags: Toni Morrison Sula Essays]
1607 words (4.6 pages)
- Toni Morrison's Sula In the book Sula by Toni Morrison, Morrison’s ambiguous link between good, evil, and guilt, she is able to show that these terms are relative to each other and often occur mutually. In her comparison of good and evil, Sula states that "Being good to somebody is just like being mean to somebody. Risky. You don't get nothing for it" (145). Good and evil are being compared as if they are equal and that is how the book is structured. For instance, Eva's burning of Plum is a complex conjunction of motherly love and practicality and cannot be described as simply being a good act or a bad one.... [tags: Toni Morrison Sula Essays]
526 words (1.5 pages)
- A Multi-faceted Interpretation of Sula In The Apocalypse in African-American Fiction, Maxine Lavon Montgomery weaves a multi-faceted interpretation of Toni Morrison's Sula. Montgomery submits, "drawing upon an African cosmological system, Morrison maintains that although life in modern America is chaotic, it is possible to escape life in the West and recover the time of the black community's non-Western beginnings" (74). Though Montgomery makes a highly detailed argument advancing several significant ideas that are well worth acknowledging, her final conclusions exceed what can be clearly supported in Sula.... [tags: Sula Essays]
565 words (1.6 pages)
- The Provinciality of Sula's Character's In her review of Toni Morrison's novel, Sula, Sara Blackburn complains that the setting and characters "seem somehow frozen, stylized"(1). While Blackburn talks favorably about Morrison's past novels (The Bluest Eye in particular), she is of the opinion that Sula is less successful because the characters are confined to one location and one mode of thought. Morrison hasn't endowed her people with life beyond their place and function in the novel, and we can't imagine their surviving outside the tiny community where they carry on their separate lives (1).... [tags: Sula Essays]
678 words (1.9 pages)
- A Close Reading of the Two Holes Passage of Sula Toni Morrison’s novel Sula is rich with paradox and contradiction from the name of a community on top of a hill called "Bottom" to a family full of discord named "Peace." There are no clear distinctions in the novel, and this is most apparent in the meaning of the relationship between the two main characters, Sula and Nel. Although they are characterized differently, they also have many similarities. Literary critics have interpreted the girls in several different ways: as lesbians (Smith 8), as the two halves of a single person (Coleman 145), and as representations of the dichotomy between good and evil (Bergenholtz 4 of 9).... [tags: Sula Essays]
928 words (2.7 pages)
- The Female Struggle for Identity in Sula The novel Sula by Toni Morrison exemplifies the new feminist literature described by Helene Cixous in "The Laugh of the Medusa" because of the final portrayal of the two main characters Nel and Sula. However, it is clear throughout the novel that both Cixous's and Gilbert and Gubar's descriptions of women characters are evident within this novel. The traditional submissive woman figure paradoxically is set against the new woman throughout the novel. It is unclear whether the reader should love or despise Sula for her independence until the very last scene. Although both the perspectives of Cixous and Gilbert/Gubar are evident within the tex... [tags: Sula Essays]
2167 words (6.2 pages)
- Black on White Violence Advocated in Sula "And white women. They chase you [black men] to every corner of the earth, feel for you under every bed. I knew a white woman wouldn't leave the house after six o'clock for fear one of you would snatch her.… They think rape soon's they see you, and if they don't get the rape they looking for, they scream it anyway just so the search won't be in vain." (Morrison) This is how Sula, the heroine of Toni Morrison's novel, refers to what she feels to be every white woman's secret desire to be raped by a black man.... [tags: Sula Essays]
1058 words (3 pages)