In her novel Sula, Toni Morrison employs diction and metaphor to describe Sula as a solitary person who doesn’t wish to synthesize her happiness or control her emotions; but, allows them to flow to her naturally in the moment. After Sula’s return to Medallion from years of travel and independent living, “She lived out her days exploring her own thoughts and emotions, giving them full reign, feeling no obligation to please anybody unless their pleasure pleased her” (Morrison 118). As Sula grants her emotions “full reign,” she allows her innate existence to rule her like a king; she views herself humbly and yet fiercely respects her identity. Unlike those who attempt to take charge of their lives and feelings, who package, sort, and store their emotions in order to find themselves, Sula experiences herself in real time which implies that she connects to the most pure form of herself. In this sense Sula values every moment for all its worth. She doesn’t consider others’ opinions, and won’t “please anybody unless their pleasure pleased her.” Hence, Sula steps detaches herself from societal life. Away from the calculations and order of society, she lets her own existence - the most important aspect of her life - flow generously to her. Morrison demonstrates the impact this has on her relationships with others, “Like any other artist with no art form she became dangerous” (Morrison 121). As Sula allows the reality of her emotions and the world around her to seep into her, she lacks both physical and emotional barriers within herself and to the world. Morrison reveals this through metaphor for Sula has “no art form,” or no medium upon which to define and restrict her emotions (people often use art like drawing and writing to define their emotions and gain control over themselves). Hence, her rawness flows out to those around her, the ones who package themselves away with societal norm. Thus, Sula is perceived as an evil or “danger” because she emanates the very substance others are afraid to recognize within themselves - emotion. As a result, others push her away, but cannot disrupt her sensation of reality because she is her own main priority. Therefore, Morrison employs diction and metaphor to demonstrate Sula’s natural and solitary connection to herself.
Sula has changed a lot since the beginning of the novel. When she was first introduced, she was this shy girl who wanted to follow everything that Nel did. She wanted a friend who she could count on, and that will have childhood memories. Morrison characterizes Sula in the beginning, “Sula copied her, and soon each had a hole the size of a cup.” (Morrison pg. 58). This Nel had more power in the beginning of the novel, however once she comes back to the Bottom, Sula realized that she needed to be in control of her own life. Sula finds out what she really wants, which is to be herself, and that means she understands the consequences that she has to consider. The price of not being part of what society wants or an ideal society is that she will be out casted and looked at as a ‘traitor.’ Morrison describes Sula’s point of view about individuality as, “She was completely free of ambition, with no affection for money, property of things, no greed, no desire to command attention or compliments- no ego.” (Morrison pg. 118) Sula doesn’t want to be like others, she wants to be independent. She understands the things that will stop her to no be who she is. Ideally, Sula received the ideal human desire, to be able to feel free, from others and more importantly, from herself. She was able to find middle ground with who she is and who she wants to be.
Dina KharagAnalysis on Sula’s character In the latest chapter, Sula’s philosophy toward life is that living life on the edge is the best way to live. This lifestyle is demonstrated when the reason she comes back to the Bottom after visiting “Nashville, Detroit, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Macon, and San Diego” (pg 120) was because she got bored with traveling all over the United States. By contrasting the word “bored” with the list of places that she visited, its to present that she needs a lot to still be entertained with the world. In addition, with talking about how the cities held the “same people” who had the same “mouths” and the same “suit”, it presents even more how she’s also bored with the people in the world. So with Sula being bored with people, she probably wouldn't try to look for love, right? Actually this isn't the case as she’s still clinging onto her old intentions of finding true love. Morrison even adds that her “naivete” was the consequence of “an idle imagination” (pg 121). The reasoning why Sula still has this hope, especially towards love, is because of her hard dire thinking to not give up. She believes that if she doesn’t get upset and keeps her cool, she’ll still have her chances of obtaining love. Morrison also compares Sula to be an artist who has no boundaries, showing even more how she’s strong and persistent in her dreams. By saying how she can use “paints”, “clay”, “dance”, “strings”, its to provide the imagery of how Sula is always dreaming. This apparently makes her “dangerous” because people who are dreamers don’t usually give up easily. This is the ultimate risk she’s taking because people always get hurt whenever they try to obtain love. So, hopefully in the end, Sula willl not get carried away in trying to hard to fall in love.
Sula has changed a little since the beginning of the novel, but overall she has not mature at all. Sula does indeed realize what she wants, but she doesn't consider the consequences of living that way at all. She is ostracized, she is hated, and she dies with nothing. No friends, no family, no beliefs. She seems to be completely dis-attached from reality and expectations. Today, for some bizarre reason, we applaud blind (possibly stupid and dangerous) individuality. There is a reason why there is a status quo, it works. It doesn't get people killed, it doesn't make people hate you, and it doesn't leave you with no friends. At any rate, Sula is very selfish and confused. When she cheats with Jude, causing Nel and Jude to split, she says, "Every man I ever knew left his children." "Some were taken." "Wrong Nellie. The word is 'left.'" Although it might be somewhat fair to say that Jude left, not all the blame lies on him (well... mostly). Sula refuses to acknowledge the fact that she did anything wrong. She mentions that she doesn't know why Nel freaked out in the first place, Sula hasn't matured enough to understand that she can't just live for her own pleasures. She mentions that all she lived for was experiencing things, feeling them. Trying to fill up her empty self. She seems almost like a sociopathic hedonist. An odd combination.
Elizabeth leeAP EnglishMs. D’Amato3/3/14Reading AnalysisQuote:“She thought she liked the sootiness of sex and it’s comedy; She laughed a great deal during the raucous beginning, and rejected those lovers who regarded sex as healthy or beautiful. Sexual aesthetics bored her. Although she did not regard sex as ugly (ugliness was boring also), she liked to think of it as wicked.” (Morrison, 122)I used this quote to describe Sulas’ point of view on life because I believe that if you replace the words “sex” and “sexual” with “life” you would receive a completely different meaning. You would get Sulas’ life story. “She thought that she like the sootiness of (life) and it’s comedy; She laughed a great deal during the raucous beginning.” I believe that this quote represents her in her earlier years when she first met Nel. This was her time of happy days and fun times with her friend. However, as she grew up, she began to “reject” those people who “regarded (life) as healthy and beautiful.” These were the people that took the conventional way of living. The normal way of life “bored” her and so did the terrible or “ugly” way of living. She thought of life to be “wicked”, something that isn’t fully evil but more implied to be slightly dangerous. This way of interpreting a passage also has a biblical parallel. In 1 Corinthians 13: 4-11, it states “Love is patient, love is kind…” this passage reflects how in the Christian belief, Jesus equals love for if you replace the word “love” with “Jesus” you get the definition of Jesus. Following this line of thinking, to Sula, sex is life. Sex is living. Just like how her mother Hannah saw it.
Sula wanted to be loved and liked and wanted by someone. She thought she found that with Nel, but then that went away. At death’s door, Sula remembers Shadrack saying “always”. She wanted permanency. Sula wanted to know that she would leave her mark on the world when she left, or at least on someone. The permanency she craved wasn’t discovered in Nel until later on after Sula’s funeral. It was after then that Nel realized how much she loved Sula. Nel says, “‘All that time, all that time, I thought I was missing Jude,’” (Morrison 174). The pain Nel felt when Jude and Sula both left her are solely because of the depth of their friendship. Jude didn’t really matter to Nel, but Nel didn’t figure this out until it was too late. Sula says, “‘Every man I ever knew left his children,’” (143). Morrison’s point through Sula is that men come and go in a woman’s world, and it is the friendships and the connections with other women that matter and last. When Sula thought she found her worth with Ajax and the green ribbon in her hair, Sula was wrong. Her worth isn’t in a man. Through Sula, Morrison conveys how men might make a woman feel precious and valued, but that’s a fleeting emotion. Men, all men, like Sula discovers, will end up leaving- sometimes because they chose to and other times because they didn’t have any other choice. Sula chooses to leave Medallion for ten years because she was tired of being caught up in the same cycle of being left behind. But then there was Ajax, and being left behind became inevitable. Everyone will get left behind in life, and people won’t be able to get back up unless they realize that they can live without the other person supporting them. Sula realizes she didn’t need anyone but herself after Ajax leaves her. She didn’t have a wallet or any identification. She even realizes that she “meant nothing” this whole time. A person’s identity is found in their worth.
In contrast to the other characters in the novel, Sula is her own person. Morrison writes, “Eva’s arrogance and Hannah’s self-indulgence merged in her and, with a twist that was all her own imagination, she lived out her days exploring her own thoughts and emotions, giving them full reign, feeling no obligation to please anybody unless their pleasure pleased her. As willing to feel pain as to give pain. to give pleasure as to feel pleasure, hers was an experimental life..She was completely free of ambition, property or things, no greed or desire..For that reason she felt no compulsion to to verify herself- be consistent with herself” (Morrison 118). Sula isn’t her mother or her grandmother, she is Sula. Even though she does take after the women in her family, she manages to do it with a Sula twist that was all her own. She lives her life for herself. She takes time to just sit and think and let her thoughts play out and go where they want too; she doesn't confine or limit them.She lets her mind fully expand. She allows herself to feel her feelings. She wants to feel everything she does and to fully live her life as much as she can. She doesn’t take it for granted. Some people may say that Sula is selfish, didn’t want to give pleasure unless it benefitted her, that just demonstrates how Sula puts herself first. She is not expected to live for anyone else, she does things for herself first but still gives people things. Sula went about her day purely living her life. She had no goals, no greed, nothing. By doing that, she had the opportunity to be fluid with her identity. Even though Sula was her own person, she also knew that she didn’t have to be consistent with her self or seek validation, she could be whatever she wanted.
The character development of Nel in Toni Morrison’s Sula is quite evident. Nel, though initially vowing to be an independent woman gradually, and very likely unintentionally, becomes quite the opposite of individual. Through her marriage to Jude she loses a sense of independence, she becomes bound to the comfortable life she, Jude and her children live… And seemingly becomes dependent on them. Once Sula arrives at the Bottom and following all that she stirs up, Nel becomes lost and the reader is exposed to her extreme lack of independency. Morrison writes of Nel’s difficulty to leave her children’s side during the night, and describes her devastation of the loss of both Jude and Sula, both individuals who influenced her greatly. It is the impact of both the loss of Judea and Sula as well as her gradual lack of independency that bring her to thoroughly conform to the ways of the town… “Now Nel belonged to the town and all of its ways. She had given herself over to them…” (Morrison 120). Morrison’s use of the word “belonged” contradicts and challenges Nel’s primary declaration to be nothing other than herself… “I’m me. I’m not their daughter” (Morrison 28). Morrison’s description of Nel’s conformity to the Bottom is seemingly negative. She describes Nel as if she were an object, and though it pains me to say this, Nel seems a bit like an object… She has progressively lost her ability to be independent from others… and with nowhere and no one to speak to and receive advice from, Nel finds that she has no other choice but to be just like every citizen in the Bottom. Nel’s development throughout the novel is somewhat drastic… she (as well as Sula) both act in extremes: Sula becomes too independent, while Nel becomes increasingly dependent; and both situations land them in trouble.
Sula is all over the place as a person. She seeks excitement, immediate fulfillment of whims, and is impulsive far beyond what one would consider acceptable. She is described as so, “Eva's arrogance and Hannah's self-indulgence merged in her and, with a twist that was all her own imagination, she lived out her days exploring her own thoughts and emotions, giving them full reign, feeling no obligation to please anybody unless their pleasure pleased her. As willing to feel pain as to give pain, to feel pleasure as to give pleasure, hers was an experimental life.” (Morrison 118). Eva and Hannah are both level headed characters and in control of themselves, quite the opposite of Sula, but she has traits from both of them. In Hannah the self indulgence worked because she went about it in a way that respected others and demanded respect from them. Eva got away with being arrogant because of her place as head of the household. Therefore the questionable persona that is Sula is not inherent of these traits, instead it is her outlook on life that creates the drastic character. It is her experimental life without regard to the minds of others that creates her distinctive character. This selfish world view is shown when it is described that, “In the midst of a pleasant conversation with someone she might say, "Why do you chew with your mouth open?" not because the answer interested her but because she wanted to see the person's face change rapidly.” (Morrison 119). She derailed social conventions not with necessarily malicious intentions, but because she valued her own experience over the other person’s. Sula is curious about people, so she studies them like rats in a mad scientist’s lab. Her lacking a sense of poise and rationality cause the townspeople to react very strongly to her as the face of inevitable evil. However, I would not argue that she is evil, but rather that she is still an upset teenager at heart.
In Toni Morrison’s, Sula, the character of Sula is shown as someone that is careless about the things that go on around her, however, she is acting this way because she doesn’t want to think about other things than just herself. This might sound as if she is being selfish, however she is not. Sula is trying to find her identity, she doesn’t know much things about herself since when she was young she would always follow what Nel did and tried being like Nel. Now that Sula has grown up she is getting tired of following others or what others tell her to do, this acting more independent. Morrison writes, “She had clung to Nel as the closest thing to both an other and a self, only to discover that she and Nel were not one and the same thing.” (Morrison 119). Sula realizes that she and Nel are two different people and she always saw herself the same as Nel, she thought she could be like Nel when they had grown up but later on she realizes that it isn’t the way she wants to be. She is different than Nel and because of that she starts doing things for herself and not for other people. Sula was seen as someone that would make everything brighter and better for Nel but this changes when Sula goes back to the bottom and makes Jude cheat on Nel, “She had no thought at all of causing Nel pain when she bedded down Jude.” Sula was used to sharing thing with Nel that she wasn’t even aware of the things that could hurt Nel and this shows how much she had lost her identity to the point of not knowing what could hurt her friend, a person that she loved and cared for.
In the novel Sula hasn’t been able to get out of the limelight thus far in part 2 of the novel. Sula breaks a lot of social norms for women at the time. She craves independence and wants to path her own way in life. We witness this when she confronts Eva about how Sula hasn’t found a man yet. And later with the ever growing hatred of her by the townspeople “She lived out her days exploring her own thoughts and emotions, giving them full reign, feeling no obligation to please anybody unless their pleasure pleased her” (pg 118). This analysis is pretty accurate by the townspeople. Sula has finally realized what she wants in life. “She wanted to see the person’s face change rapidly. She was completely free of ambition, with no affection for money, property or things, no greed-no desire to command attention or compliments- no ego. For that reason she felt no compulsion to verify herself- be consistent with herself”(pg 119). Without regard to any of the things that make a typically sociality in America function Sula has definitely succeeded in created her own path in life. But the problem is, is that Sula may not care about these things but other surrounding her do. Because normal people care about money, property, etc they tend to be more conservative socially and fiscally. But Sula is just the opposite. Sula’s personally could have fit back when her was at University where things happen more instantaneously than the slower feel of a town isolated on the top of a hill. But her impulse and her lack of seeing consequences have ostracized her from the rest of the population.
Nel to my understanding hasn't changed much since the beginning of the novel, as she has become more and more tied down to social norms. She still has the feeling of breaking free from social norms, as she sees that Sula is being herself and living free. It is also evident that Nel hasn't been the most socially active person as she has no real friends outside of Sula, and when Sula comes and basically ruins her marriage; Nel shows more affection towards her relationship with Sula. The narrator writes, "She looked around for a place to be. A small place...Small enough to contain her grief. Bright enough to throw into relief the dark things that cluttered her." This suggest that Nel has remained a very closed in person, and she almost isolates herself from the world and locks herself in within her own problems. She wants to find refuge through other people, it's as if she can't take responsibility for her own life.