With Mother’s Day coming up within a couple weeks, I wanted to bring up the topic of motherly love. We can experience Ekwefi’s distraught over her ogbanje curse and her 9 deceased children, so it’s easy to understand why she values her bond with Ezinma so much. They are extremely close, and actually act more like equals than they do like a mother and a daughter. We see that she is willing to disobey Chielo’s commands, and follows Ezinma regardless of the potential wrath of the gods. She knows that there might be consequences, but she vows to herself that she will rush into that cave if she hears Ezinma crying. She is willing to do anything for her child, and I think that sacrifice is admirable. We’ve see it in many other places (Hester in Scarlet Letter, Eva in Sula, etc.), and I think it is something we can identify with so much because it casts the mother in a positive (and yes, feminist) light—she is strong and brave, and willing to make dire sacrifices for her children if necessary. Even if we don’t classify ourselves as feminists, we tend to feel a sort of pride when we see a female character taking on such a strong role. Motherly love is something we really need to cherish, so make sure you reciprocate that love back to yo momma this Mother’s Day!
In this passage, Morrison gives the reader an insider’s look into Sula’s thoughts about her relationship with Nel after Sula’s ‘betrayal’. Sula’s upbringing and slightly skewed perspective on life, especially with regard to love, leaves her as an human who lacks most of the attributes that are common to the rest of the human race. She also defies the societal expectations that are placed on the other colored women of her community. Initially, Nel and Sula start their friendship with an incredibly close friendship that boarders on love. However, as these two woman matured, they began to separate and each started to grow into a different perspective on the community in which they lived. These differing opinions were mainly influenced by their very different upbringings. Nel grew up in a very strict and orderly home, which eventually squashed all feelings of rebellion from Nel as she grew older. Her role in society becomes pivotal and her status within the social circles of Bottom lead to her unconscious decision to conform to their community’s social expectations. In the case of Sula, her upbringing was highly unconventional. Her mother’s flirtatious and uncommitted behavior leads to Sula’s skewed understand of love. Her grandmother’s expectations fill the role of society’s expectations but because of her slightly arrogant behavior, Sula’s chooses to ignore them. When Sula returns after leaving Bottom, she completely ignores the social norms of her previous home and continues to live her life in a manner that suits her. Through their contrasting lifestyles and upbringings, the two girls eventually come to the understanding that they are traveling along two very different walks of life. And for Sula, who clung to Nel as her other self and center, this idea makes her realize that they were, in fact, two very different people, thus leading to a sense of disappointment towards Nel for changing her identity to conform to society’s expectations while she remained true to herself until the end.
In Sula, Nel and Sula’s secret, their accidental killing of Chicken Little, allows them to maintain their friendship despite the various hardships they face throughout their lives. Nel and Sula’s secret is the ultimate bond in their friendship. When Sula sleeps with Nel’s husband, the ultimate act of betrayal, even in her anger, Nel never discloses the secret to anyone. Similar to the show Pretty Little Liars, Spencer, the four main girls, Aria, Emily and Hannah share the secret about the murder of their best friend and the fact that the killer has never been caught and is still haunting each of them. Despite the various scandals that they encounter throughout the search for their best friends killer, the secret they share keeps their friendship together, through it all. Just like in Sula, Sula and Nel’s friendship is extremely complex, but there is no denying the fact that their secret keeps them bonded until their dying day.
I’m very intrigued by this investigation of the meaning of our characters’ names, so I looked into the meaning of Eva.
"Eva" is a girl’s name of Hebrew origin that means "life", or more specifically "giver of life".
I think it is such an appropriate name for Eva. Not only does she literally give her children life as their mother, but she makes major sacrifices in their interest—if she isn’t losing a leg in a supposed “train accident” to get money to support them, she is flinging herself out a two-story window to save her burning daughter. So, maybe the name is a little ironic considering the scene where she kills Plum. But, I think that overall, she lives up to the meaning of her name when she tries so hard to save the lives of her children and support them the best way she can. Thoughts?
So I love learning about the etymology of names and I thought it would be really entertaining to look up names from Sula because Toni Morrison chooses such peculiar names for her characters. So i googled the name Sula and found this, Sula \s(u)-la\ as a girl’s name is a variant of Shulamith (Hebrew) and Ursula (Scandinavian, Latin), and the meaning of Sula is “peace; little she-bear”. (source: http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/0/Sula)
I thought it was interesting how Sula’s name means peace when she causes so much uproar in the town. I personally can’t see a connection in Sula’s name meaning and her actions throughout the novel. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
In this particular quote Shadrack is describing the belt Sula left behind when she came to “visit him.” Although we as reader know the only reason Sula went into Shadrack’s home was to try to get his help when she threw Chicken Little into the river. The way he cherishes that belt reveals the profound loneliness he experiences as a social outcast of society. For him, that belt, which represents Sula, is his only vestige of companionship. Sula was needed by everyone in the Bottom in some way or another and in this quote we see how Shadrack needed her. Arguably, Shadrack needed Sula more than anyone else in the novel needed her. What’s interesting about this is that Shadrack is the only character that seems to have an awareness of that need for her and because of this awareness he is able to love her. The rest of society on the other hand fails to see in what way they need her so instead they hate her. In addition the fact that she is loved by another outcast helps to further demonstrate her position in society and make us almost wish we could see more interaction between Shadrack and Sula.
All that time, all that time, I thought i was missing Jude.
Nel finally realizes that she was never really missing her husband. She really missed Sula and the friendship they had. This realization really shows the relationship Nel had with her husband and with Sula. Nel and Sula’s relationship was obviously closer and stronger than her relationship with Jude. It was “appropriate” for her to miss Jude because she was supposed to “love” him because he was her husband. She wasn’t supposed to miss Sula because Sula was the one who took him away. I think that the gray ball that hung around Nel might have been this realization that she wasn’t sad because of her husband leaving, but because of Sula leaving. She lost a friend who had been with her through everything form a young age. That was real love.
Attached is a timeline of modern music starting in the late 1890’s leading all the way up to the present. Of all the books, Sula has the largest time span as we look at the growth through aging of characters.
Taking place between the 1920’s through the mid 1960’s, the characters in Sula change just as the music does. Jazz and Blues are leaders in musical culture from the 1920’s all the way through the mid 1940’s when Pop starts to hit the airwaves. From the 1920’s to the 1940’s, Sula is growing into the ideas and values that she will orient her whole life with. The Pop music is Sula’s life is her initiative to leave Bottom and pursue the lifestyle she wants.
With the 1950’s emerges Rock-n-Roll. Now, Sula has become rebellious as a form of self expression to contradict all that is going on around her.
Jazz, Pop, and Rock-n-Roll music all merge together after this through the 1960’s where all genres are complimenting and feeding off of each other. Sula is quickly realizing the merging of all aspects of her life and how they compliment and feed off each other. Whether within her relationship with Nel or the questions she asks herself, all aspects of Sula’s life are coming together.
Though Rock has taken the main stage, it wouldn’t be where it is today without Jazz just like Sula wouldn’t be the same had she not picked up the ideals and values she learned as a child in her “jazz” phase.
She was pariah, then, and knew it. Knew that they despised her and believed that they framed their hatred as disgust for the easy way she lay with men. -Sula pg. 122
Throughout Sula we have found many connections to the previous novels read in our class. When Sula refers to herself as a “pariah” a parallel to The Scarlet Letter and Hester forms. Both characters were seen as immoral women who rebelled against the norms of the society “for the easy way [they] lay with men.” The town punishes Hester for sleeping with a man to whom she was not betrothed while the people of Medallion criticize Sula for sleeping around with white men. Both acts are defiantly against the community norms and create an image as a social pariah for each woman.
In Sula, the characters Plum, Tar Baby and Shadrack all go to war then return completely changed and psychologically altered for the worst, whether it be alcohol, drugs or simply paranoia. All of these war veterans are young men who end up spending the bulk of their life dealing with the negative effects which the war has left them with. Also, each of these men becomes an outcaste upon his return to Medallion. What do you feel Toni Morrison is trying to tell us about war and its effects on the young generation? Has the war experience/the life of veterans upon their return from war improved since the times of World War I? Is it still prodominantely young people who go to war and come back completely changed?
"I was good to you, Sula, why don’t that matter?" (year: 1940. paragraph: 70).
Sula and Nel had always been inseparable, but one thing split them apart for the rest of their lives. Sula has an affair with Nel’s husband, doing the most unforgivable of all deeds. Sula not only split the marriage, but split the friendship, the more important of the two, as well. Nel asks Sula why she would ever betray her in such a way, to take away one of the men they never shared, a man who was her possession. Nel wonders if their friendship ever mattered and confronts the ill Sula to ask her why she’d be her husband’s mistress. She scolds Sula, but Sula realized that Nel had changed from the girl she was before and does not give Nel a straight as to why she did what she had an affair with Jude. Their friendship is never mended and neither friend understands why the other did what they did.