Death and Destruction in Toni Morrison's Sula

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Toni Morrison in Sula celebrated the lives of ordinary people who daily must work and provide. Sula celebrates many lives: It is the story of the friendship of two African American women; it is the story of growing up Black and female; but most of all, it is the story of a community…

Introduction


Historically, great literature has concerned itself with nature, death, and love. In Sula, Morrison takes on an apparently simple theme, the friendship of two black girls. One, Nel Wright, follows the pattern of life society has laid out for her, and the other, Sula Peace, tries to create her own pattern, to achieve her own self. In Sula, the patterns of both cultures are distinct, yet share common factors (Deborah E. McDowell, 1988, 80). Sula's destiny is charted by the mythology of Evil and Nature her hometown ascribes to and by the view the Bottom as well as the larger society holds of woman, her span and space. In exploring this community's system of beliefs, Morrison weaves a fable about the relationship between conformity and experiment, survival and creativity. This mythological system is continually discerned in the novel's fabric through death, so ordinary in its eternal presence that it might otherwise be missed, through the drama of time as a significant event, and through the pervasive use of nature as both a creative and destructive force. In Sula, Death occurs in each chapter and is the beginning of, or climax of, the experience in that particular section of the novel. Death becomes a way of focusing experience. As each year gives way to another, so each death gives way to a new view of life, a new discovery, a new feeling for truth.
Morrison created Nel and Sula to be a whole: "Each has part of the other. . . . ...
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