Novel “Sula”

The Complex Nature of Sula

The character of Sula emerges noticeably in Toni Morrison's book "Sula," and she stands out from her contemporaries in terms of personality and manner of life in every situation. Through her, the author is able to establish the narrative and convey the major themes of the book in a way that is uncompromised and redefines what it means to be an iconic character. Sula's nature is at best too complex and challenging to be fully comprehended. The uniqueness, coolness, and literary charm of the major character come from her complex behavior.

Sula as a Contradiction

On one hand, Sula is hated for her being slow, more of an introvert and staying less aware of the feelings of other characters (Morrison 13). On the other, she is likeable and admired for her courageous and sorry state when it comes to critical issues that almost bring life to a standstill. In fact, while she attracts love and hate in equal measure because of her actions, it is through this presentation that Toni Morrison creates a platform to challenge his audience about how they would react to such people, of the personality of Sula, in practical life. Well, the intriguing questions like whether she serves to set the pace of reason in the novel, act the villain, or lead an all compromised life that leaves everybody in awe is left for personal judgment, as the author does not explicitly tell or give hints about his feelings over Sula as the protagonist.

The Formation of Sula's Personality

The personality of Sula is learned of as peculiar and unique when the audience of Morrison first experiences her in her childhood, growing amidst strong-willed and autonomous women. The setting of her childhood is not all that convenient for her lifestyle, and because of the noisy, busy, and messy surroundings, she finds attractive Nel's house, to which she moves to from time to time and spent. Indeed, the situation hitherto reveals more about the character of Sula as an orderly and self-disciplined individual. In fact, though she can be misunderstood to be wild, irrational, and emotional, the author notes that she had the ability to "sit on [Helene's] red-velvet sofa for ten to twenty minutes at a time – still as dawn" to enjoy the serene and cool environment (Morrison 75). While it could be easier to get compromised and forget about the childhood life of Sula as an orderly character, Morrison makes it difficult for his readers to undermine the fact that Sula craved for orderliness and love much in her life, and she never found it in her home. In essence, the environment Sula grew up in reveals a lot about her character and later the personality of an individual she grows up to be. Typically, it becomes challenging for Morrison's audience to reconcile a young girl who appeared disciplined, orderly and peaceful, with an adolescent who dares cut her finger in her effort to stand before her male peers who threatened the tranquility of her best friend. The flashback in Sula's deathbed is the true measure of how her childhood was like when she mediates on how much she wanted to be like Nel, when she almost mimicked everything her friend did. Sula was so close to Nel that she seemed to abandon her life and lived as another individual altogether, "When Sula imitated her or tried to, those long years ago, it always ended up in some action noteworthy not for its coolness but mostly for its being bizarre. The one time she tried to protect Nel, she had cut off her fingertip and earned not Nel's gratitude but her disgust. From then on she had let her emotions dictate her behavior" (Morrison 14). The childhood of Sula serves as a background to inform the reader of why she becomes who she is in her adulthood. While in her teenage years, Sula loved and trusted more than necessary; she invested emotionally to appear cool, logical, and rational. However, after the disappointments, ironically, life never gave her what she anticipated, and that is why she becomes more of a reactionary force than a sober mind a reader encounters in the beginning.

The Complexities of Sula in Adulthood

At an advanced level into the novel, when the reader meets Sula in her adult life, she is equally complicated and hard to understand as she was in her tender age. When she comes back to the Bottom, for instance, the heated confrontation and exchange she engages Eva in make Morrison's audience wonder about what a villain Sula has become. While Eva bitterly laments that Sula could not lend a helping hand while Hannah burnt, she retorts that Eva intentionally set ablaze her son. Perhaps the climax of her otherwise irrational and undisciplined approach to life, maybe more autonomous and inconsiderate, comes when she tells Eva, "I don't want to make somebody else. I want to make myself," after being asked to get married and sire children (Morrison 21). Though the person of Eva, Morrison lets his audience know and learn more about the complicated and not easily compromising Sula in adulthood. Moreover, when Eva refers to Sula as one who harbors "hellfire", Sula answers back that, "Whatever's burning in me is mine", meaning, she is well aware of whom she has become; a social misfit (Morrison 41). The responses by Sula tell more about her desire for independence, a self-centered life, and autonomous approach to challenging situations that need social cohesion to find better solutions. While she is against anybody speaking about her fate, she equally never wants to recognize the personal space of other characters, and Sula arbitrarily invokes strife. The birthmark in the form of a rose on her face is a symbolic manifestation of how much she dares to own her glory and define her right uninterrupted.

The Influences of Nel on Sula's Identity

The relationship between Nel and Sula gives the reader a better chance to understand who she is and why she turns out to be such a peculiar character. Her innocence as a young girl was inseparable from her friend Nel. The emotional and distressful times the two went through are a reflection of what becomes of them when they grow up. Nevertheless, it is critical to note that the background that Sula grew up in was socially challenging. For example, she saw her mother have sex with other married men. All the adverse behavior to such an innocent mind was considered normal then (Morrison 24). Consequently, when she grows up and exhibits what appears morally unacceptable, it is not her fault. She shares boyfriends with Nel, for instance. Nevertheless, when she messes up with the husband of Nel, Morrison's audience appears to hate her automatically. In fact, when Nel gets angry about it, Sula becomes confused and disturbed. In essence, what appears as ill behavior is what her sense recognizes as appealing. Therefore, the personality of Sula is such a sophisticated experience, and the environment she was brought up in better explains who she is than what her personality mirrors in real life.

Work Cited

Morrison, Toni. Sula - Toni Morrison - Google Books. Vintage, 1998 ISBN 0099760010, 9780099760016, 1998. Web.

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