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Sula by Toni Morrison - Essay Example

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The story is about The Bottom which is an African American neighbourhood in Ohio. Morrison has used several natural elements such as fire, water, earth, and wind to depict the social relationships in communities. …
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Sula by Toni Morrison
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Number] Sula by Toni Morrison ‘Sula’ by Toni Morrison was published in 1973. The story is about The Bottom which is an African American neighbourhood in Ohio. Morrison has used several natural elements such as fire, water, earth, and wind to depict the social relationships in communities. Morrison shows through her writings that the natural world is connected with our lives and our communities in some way or the other.
Morrison’s use of earth signifies the difference in importance and value that people have been attaching to different races on the basis of their skin colour, caste, and creed. Initially, in the novel the black people were given a piece of land on top of the hill because it was thought to be worthless and infertile but years later when a whole black community had been established there and people had their homes and sources of livelihood in that area, they were being forced to relocate just because the wealthier white people wanted to build a golf course on the hill (Morrison 165). This suggests that some people find others so worthless that they can uproot an entire community and their houses, infrastructure, and living just to create a means of their recreation.
Fire and water have been used as symbols of death in the story as it invoked fear amongst the people of the community. Death has been associated with water in several places, one of which is the incidence of the drowning of Chicken Little in the river. It has been described that the water closing quickly over the place where he sunk calling it liquid pain (Morrison 203). It says that as Chicken Little sank, it wasn’t merely a displacement phenomenon of simple physics- but as if the water engulfed and devoured chicken little in itself intentionally (Morrison 204).
Fire has also been used in many places in the novel as a way many people met their end. One of which is when a woman Eva set her own son on fire because of his addiction to drugs and then watched him die without much regret (Morrison 176). Later in the story, her daughter also died after her dress caught fire. The author perhaps wants to show us that fire is a very powerful medium of bringing death as it completely finishes whatever it comes in contact with, reducing it to nothing but ash.
The author has not directly described the role of wind in this story. However, he has used the reference of birds to take flight in the wind to describe how women are supposed to be free like those birds that are free to fly to whatever place they want to and how women should not be restrained from doing what they want by the men of the house. The birds have also been used to describe changes in the affairs and the state of the community for instance the reference to the plaque of the robins (Morrison 265) and how it brings about positive change in the community after destruction just like spring does after winter.
I think that the author has tried to establish a relationship between the natural world and its communities to make a point that no matter how much development human beings make, how much they become engrossed in trying to outdo each other, ultimately we can all be related to the natural elements around us. We cannot live without land and it has long served as a reason for territorial disputes and one day we will be buried under the earth. Water and fire can serve as means for our death while wind may bring about change in people’s lives. So ultimately whatever elements the world is made up of are also necessary for our sustenance and may ultimately be the reasons we encounter our death.
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Morrison Toni. Sula. USA: Knopf, 1973 Read More
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