In their life, at one point or another, people deny to themselves and others what they really feel and what really happened. Some people go on living their entire lives denying their true emotions. In Toni Morrison’s novel Sula, characters constantly denied their feelings and their actions. Sula Peace, her best friend Nel Wright, and Nel’s mother do not listen to their feelings and hide from their true emotions.
Sula Peace is one of the protagonists of the novel. She is born to a very unstable family and is from that moment treated differently in “the Bottom”, the black section of Medallion, Ohio. From the time that she was very young, right up until her death, Sula denied her true emotions. She refuted her need for love and did not acknowledge her family and its impact on her.
Sula’s need for love was first expressed in the beginning of the novel when she is twelve years old. Not realizing that Sula is nearby, Hannah, her mother says: “I love Sula. I just don’t like her.” Sula “only heard Hannah’s words, and the pronouncement sent her flying up the stairs. In bewilderment, she stood at the window fingering the curtain edge, aware of a sting in her eye.”(57) Sula did not show that her mother’s words truly hurt her. She ran away from the problem when she heard Nel call for her. Sula just went on to continue playing with Nel like nothing happened even thought the words of her mother would ring in her head forever reminding her of the hurt and betrayal she felt when those words left her mother’s lips.
Sula’s lack of love continued in 1923 when she turned thirteen. She was changing into a woman, but the words of her mother were still with her. In the summer when the entire community began to can fruits and vegetables for the winter, Hannah began to do the same. She lit a fire, which in turn caught her dress and soon engulfed her in flames. Sula sat on the back porch simply looking on as her mother burned. Sula continued to keep standing as Eva, her handicapped grandmother dived out the second floor window in an effort to save Hannah. When Eva told people that she saw Sula standing by and not even trying to help anyone they responded by saying: “Sula was probably struck dumb, as anybody would be who saw her own mama burn up.”(78) Eva agreed with them, “but inside she disagreed and remained convinced that Sula had watched Hannah burn not because she was paralyze...
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...mother was a prostitute who was incapable of raising a child. When Helene got notice to come to Louisiana because her grandmother was sick “She did not want to go, but she could not ignore the silent plea of the woman who had rescued her.”(19). Helene did not want to go because she would once again have face her past in the racist streets of Louisiana. For her trip Helene sewed herself an elegant dress hoping that it would ease some tension of the fact that she was black. It was almost as if Helene was trying to hide the fact that she was black.
Although Sula, Nel, and Helene were all running from their past, it finally caught up to them. Sula as much as she did not like her other, became like her by becoming the town whore and sleeping around with the married men of Medallion. Nel who throughout the novel tried to break the social conscience shell her mother put her in, wound up worrying what the town would think of her. Helene Wright went back to Louisiana and was forced to look her mother in the eyes. By running away from their past and their emotions they were forced to encounter them in much more difficult situations than if they were to have faced their feelings head on.
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