“Sula" by Tony Morrison is the story of a friendship between Nel Wright and Sula Peace, who are opposites in the way of relating to other people, to the world around them, and to themselves. Nel is rational and balanced; she gets married and gives in to conformity and the town's expectations. Sula is an irrational and transient character. She follows her immediate passions, completely unaware of the feelings other people might have. However, Nel and Sula are able to function well only when they are together because they complete each other as opposites. However, as separate entities, Sula and Nel are vulnerable and isolated from the rest of world; Sula because she is impulsive and disregards the feelings of other people, and Nel
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Nel's household, however, is very conformist and proper, but also lacks in emotional attachments. Nel's parents marry out of convenience, rather than love. For Nel's mother, the absences of her husband, a sailor were "quite bearable." Nel is raised in an atmosphere of "oppressive neatness" (29), a strict and organized household that instills society's rules in her. Nel's mother constantly attempts to destroy Nel's spirit and imagination. "Under Helene's [Nel's mother's] hand the girl became obedient and polite. Any enthusiasms that little Nel showed were calmed by the mother until she drove her daughter's imagination underground." (18) "Don't just sit there, honey, you could be pulling your nose" (28) This emotional vacuum compels the girls to seek their missing components in each other's company.
During their friendship, Sula and Nel do not have the feeling of detachment they acquire after their parting. In their friendship as girls, they "had clung to [each other] as the closest thing to both an other and a self" (119). They have an interest and curiosity in life and they are absorbed by everything they do. Together they can relate to other people better when they are together. "Humor returned. Nel's love for Jude, which over the years had spun a steady gray web around her heart, became a