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Toni Morrison the Book Sula and the Symbol of Water - Essay Example

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Toni Morrison the Book Sula and the Symbol of Water

Speaking more literally, water is used in the novel to symbolize the border between the sexuality and the experience of death around. First of all, the main character of Sula was taken by Morrison to directly outline the link between the heroine and water. The question is that sula is a sea bird. Thus, water is inseparable for Sula of the novel. Along with the place they lived in (Bottom), the whole story underlines the bottom of heaven where Sula and Nel were placed for living together. The black people living in Medallion tend to justify what everything was all about along with “what that little girl Sula who grew into a woman in their town was all about, and what they themselves were all about, tucked up there in the Bottom” (Morrison 6). It is a mystery for the main character why their philosophy of living is trite by the majority. Conversely, Sula’s own feelings seek to be evident as long as she feels love, passion, and responsibility for her neighbors deep within her heart. To say more, the theme of budding sexuality in keeping with the best traditions of the Modernism in literature is explored through the symbol of water. Sula and Nel are interwoven into a play they once started in their childhood and continue, though Nel is married to Jude. The sexual intercourse between Sula and Jude is a manifestation of their wetness and soft nature of the water itself. However, it is vital to turn back in earlier times when Nel and Sula were playing with their holes. One episode is peculiar when they stand together “gazing out over the swift dull water as an unspeakable restlessness and agitation held them” (Morrison 59). It is an intimate dimension of their lives. Water seems to keep Nel and Sula’s feelings in secret until the moment comes. Water is taken in the novel to describe Sula’s personal shelter from the eyes of the surrounding people likely to blame her. In fact, the river setting is a symbol of people falling in oblivion once the death has come in their lives. At several points water is a symbol of death (Davis 91). The most applicable examples when it is treated like that are the death of Chicken Little and Sula herself. Here comes a contradiction between themes of sexuality leading to birth and oblivion characterizing death. Here, Morrison exemplified the struggle of African Americans: “Water that should cleanse and purify instead leads to a clogging of human emotions, a beaver’s dam on the souls of the two girls” (Bloom 130). Thus, sexuality symbolized by means of water is intersected by the images of death incorporated in the smoothness of water. Toni Morrison draws upon the symbolic meaning of water trying to amplify the hardships African Americans experience in Medallion. In this respect one of the places in the book reads as follows: “With the first crack and whoosh of water, the clamber to get out was so fierce that others who were trying to help were pulled to their deaths” (Morrison 162). Thereupon, water is classified in the imaginary world created by Morrison as both the beginning and the end for all those inhabitants living in the Bottom. Thus, Sula’s tears and her weeping at different places in the book provide a reader with the feeling of sorrow. Nevertheless, the other side of the story is that Sula seeks to find out her niche under the sun, even though the water reminds her of the ...Show more


Sula by Toni Morrison is a novel full of different characterizations and symbols incorporated by the author in an accurate depiction of social as well as cultural misconception. In this respect the symbol of water was taken by Morrison for a reason. In other words, she tried to embody a particular meaning into the use of water overtly encountered throughout reading the text…
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Toni Morrison the Book Sula and the Symbol of Water essay example
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