The Power Of Identity In Sula, By Toni Morrison

People are born into a world of cirumstances they cannot control but their responses to those circumstances are what shape who they are. Set between the ends of WW1 and WWII in the United States, Sula, by Toni Morrison examines the fate of a community called the Bottom through the intertwined lives of its residents. Aware of the few opportunities available to the minorities and females due to discrimination, social expecations, and exploitation of the time, Morrison challanges the idea of conforming to societal standards by exploring the value of finding a sense of self.
To change for superficial reasons is to potentially lose something even more valuable: character and authenticity. The Bottom is an African American community subject to racism,
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Although society has a significant influence on one’s identity, Morrison also explores how individuals influence society. Shadrack and Sula, the two most individualistic characters, made the most impact on their community, supporting the idea that society must be challanged with fresh perspectives. The main characters, Shadrack and Sula, are extremely similar in their in their desire for self-discovery. Their inconsistency and constant rejection of social norms makes them the most human characters, imperfect and questioning. In fact, on her death bed, Sula blatantly rejects Nel’s resigned mentality that “[a colored woman] can’t be walking around all independent-like” (Morrison 142). A woman ahead of her time, she does not care about what others think of her. For being different, Sula became the Bottom’s scapegoat to blame for all of the town’s misfortune. By uniting against a common evil , the Bottom inadvertantly united in a way they would have never before. Similarly, Shadrack introduces the idea of National Suicide Day and through his annual day he “changes the consciousness of an entire community,” uniting the comunity into an organized chaos (Fulton). Once Sula died, the atmosphere of the Bottom shifted. Many rejoice, expecting the evil to dissapear from the world, but instead the community has lost its opposing force. In the culmanation of chaos and …show more content…
"'A direction of one's own': alienation in Mrs. Dalloway and Sula." African American Review, vol. 40, no. 1, 2006, p. 67+. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 5 Nov. 2017.
Morrison, Toni. Sula. Vintage International, 2004.
Putnam, Amanda."Mothering violence: ferocious female resistance in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, Sula, Beloved, and A Mercy." Black Women, Gender & Families, vol. 5, no. 2, 2011, p. 25+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 5 Nov. 2017.
Samuels, Wilfred D. "Experimental Lives: Meaning and Self in Sula." Toni Morrison, Twayne Publishers, 1990, pp. 31-52. Twayne's United States Authors Series 559. Twayne's Authors Series, Accessed 5 Nov.

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