“Sula” by Toni Morrison Essay
“Sula” by Toni Morrison
Sisterhood is one of the most important thing in the life a black women. There are many different types of friends, the ones you can confide in, the ones you can depend on for support, the ones that you can go out and have a good time with. The problem with all of these is the fact that they can end. Sisterhood is something that goes deeper than that, it is something that is life-long and unconditional. Sula and Nel shared a sisterhood bond in Sula. Though they might not have endured the same struggles during their times together and apart, both women experienced the same type of bond, the bond of sisterhood.
Sula and Nel depended on each other for support and self-acceptance. It was like they were not complete if the other one was not around. They began their friendship when they were little girls. “Their friendship was intense as it was sudden” (Morrison 53). This intensity was the beginning of the sisterhood that they shared. They both were fatherless and complimented each other with their opposite behavior. They were completely different people which made people refer to them as two parts of one whole and they both grew to be very similar to the mothers that they lacked proper attention from. They were completely different people which made people refer to them as two parts of one whole and they both grew to be very similar to the mothers that they lacked proper attention from. Sula became wild and sexually liberated, similar to the opinion that the community had about her mother. Nel became a wife to her husband and enjoyed her “neat” life the way that her mother enjoyed her neat home.
Sula was raised by a mother who obviously liked her deceased brother more than she liked her. This became increasingly obvious when Sula overheard her say that she loved Sula but did not like her. Sula was a young girl and to hear that her mother did not like her was something that she never got over. Because of her household she became independent and she did not conform to what her community expected of her. She left the Bottom and went out to explore. Without Nel she lost her sensibility and that is one of the reasons that the relationships she explored when she was away from home failed. Returning to the Bottom was a return to her home, but it was also a return to her other half. Sula watched her mother burn, commmited her grandmother to a nursing home and stole her best friend’s husband, but through all of this she does not become a character that we hate, she becomes someone that we feel sorry for and someone that we want to take part in.
Nel was raised as an only child with a mother that was concerned with order and conformity. At a young age she sees her mother humiliated by a white man in New Orleans. It was then when she decided that she would never be ashamed and or lose herself among the oppression of her family of people in general. Though her mother does not approve of the friendship she loves Sula and her household because they give her a sense of freedom that she does not have when she is at her own home. When Sula leaves from the Bottom the part of Nel that is fun loving and untamed leaves with her. Her life becomes ordered and conformed just the same as her mother’s house. She marries Jude because that it what she is expected to do not because she truly loves him.
There are two significant events in Sula and Nel’s friendship during their childhood, Sula cutting her finger to protect Nel against the teasing of the Irish children and the drowning of Chicken Little. This proves that they will do anything for each other. Sula felt for Nel when those boys teased her. She felt it was worth it to endure a little physical pain in order for Nel not to feel the emotional pain. This also spoke of the racial segregation in the community on a more simplistic level by using children. The drowning of Chicken Little was different. This was the first time that Sula and Nel we see Sula and Nel sharing the kind of connection that will really last for a lifetime. Nel was able to make the decision that Sula did not drown Chicken Little on purpose because she knew Sula would not do something like that. The fact that she did not say anything let Sula know that Nel was truly her friend.
The betrayal of Sula sleeping with Nel’s husband hurt Nel on many levels. The first, obvious level was the fact that Nel felt that her friend did not care about her feelings. The one person that completed Nel was not her husband, it was Sula. The other large part is the fact that Nel’s husband left with Sula. This affected her because Nel sacrificed her life to man that she did not truly love and in return he left her to go with a women who did not make
those kinds of sacrifices. With Sula and her husband gone Nel becomes empty and feels destroyed inside. The other side of this is hard to believe. Sula was upset at Nel for being upset with her. Because they shared everything when they were younger, Sula truly believed that it was okay to share Nel’s husband. It actually hurt Sula’s feelings that Nel was upset.
Nel spent the rest of Sula’s life and twenty-five years beyond her death being upset. She felt that their friendship had been destroyed, but she knew that the sisterhood that they shared would never go away. Even in death she knew that she never lost Sula, because Sula was a part of her. Their lives, no matter how different were intertwined and they always would be.
Morrison, Toni. Sula. Penguin: New York (1973).
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