Sula - A Review

Sula - A Review
Toni Morrison's Sula is about Sula, the heroine, her family,neighbors, and the small town of Bottom where she lives. Although the book is named after Sula, it's really also about the whole community of Bottom, as each person represents a societal figure or symbolization of life at the time. Sula, written in 1973 and set around that time, is full of powerful themes, much like all of Toni Morrison's works are--themes that are deep, almost always disturbing, and with a touch of supernatural elements.

Sula is a free-spirited girl who comes from a family of free-spirited individuals who defy societal conventions and think little of the consequences of their actions. As a pre-teen, Sula befriends Nel, whose character and background is as different from hers as oil is from water. Nel's family is conventional, conservative, and does not approve of her relationship with Sula, but in spite of that, both young girls become 'one halves of a whole' as their friendship grows and blossoms. An incident occurs, however, that brings a wedge to their friendship.

One day, Sula and Nel are playing with a neighbor, a child nicknamed Chicken Little, and as Sula is swinging him around with both hands, he slips from her grip and flies into the river, where he sadly drowns. Sula and Nel decide there and then to keep the details of the accident between them. When the white authorities show up, they start to argue about whether to have to send the corpse to the dead boy's parents, or just leave him there in the river to rot, since he was 'black and unimportant'. This event changes the lives of the children, though not at first, as they both decided not to speak or dwell on it at the time since it 'really wasn't their fault'. Over the years, it comes to affect them both, their decisions and actions, albeit subconsciously.

I could go on and on to narrate the breathtaking events that eventually follow in this book, but I won't say more other than the fact that, although it is certainly not a book for the faint-hearted, it is a most powerful literary work that has ever been written. Sula is so flawed and so unlike normal (innocent and unassuming) heroines, yet she is the perfect heroine for literature. She is complex, unorthodox, outspoken, and so majorly flawed. She doesn't care about what anyone thinks of her or her actions; she is envied and detested by women, detested by men but irresistible to them at the same time. She is a free spirit who is deeply disturbed partly from her upbringing, partly from the incident with Chicken Little, and partly from societal issues that were rampant during the time.

The heavy theme of racism is prevalent in this work, as Morrison sheds light on life as a black person at the time and the discrimination that was in plain sight everywhere: on the streets, in the bus, and even with the very name of the town 'Bottom', which indicated where the 'whites' believed the 'blacks' belonged. Another prevalent theme throughout the novel is love. Love is portrayed here as a burden, a feeling that cannot be helped or resisted even if you tried. Love isn't always pure or good, nor does it conform to any moral laws or views; it can be sickening, twisted, and lead us to do disturbing things. An example (among a few) of this is shown when Sula's grandmother, Eva, kills her son, Plum, to 'save' him from his post traumatic disorder (an after-effect of war), which always left him miserable, drunk and useless.

If you're an avid lit lover with a love for the really deep stuff and your heart is strong, i.e. you don't mind sad scenes that have deeper layers of truth, then you should definitely read this. Toni Morrison always has this way of engaging her readers so much that even when you think you can't bear to read on, nothing can stop you from turning to the next page, and the next. She is a true lit warrior, is Morrison!

VIOLENCE: Very high

**I borrowed this book from my public library for my reading pleasure and for the purpose of this review.
At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.
--Toni Morrison

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Women Literary Writers - Early to Late 1900s

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