Sula, written by Toni Morrison, is a very powerful novel. Not only is this novel a National Bestseller, but it has also been the winner of the Noble Prize in Literature, in addition to being one of Oprah’s top chosen books, which in her opinion everyone should read. This could be because of the many lessons that can be learned from it, if one is willing to search deep enough to find its true meanings. The most valuable themes in Sula deal with mother-daughter relationships, the judging of people, and friendships.
The mother-daughter relationship was a very crucial part to the story. Morrison wanted her readers to learn that although a mother may not always show it, she always loves her daughter. The mother-daughter bond is one that can never be broken. The love between Hannah and Eva and Sula and Hannah was always there, even though it was not always out there in the open. Eva had even given the ultimate sacrifice and sold one of her legs just to be able to feed her children. Since their love for one another was never shown, Hannah and Sula both had not felt loved by their mothers. Hannah thought her mother never loved her because she did not play games with her as a child. Sula did not think that her mother loved her because she overheard a conversation of her mom stating how she did not like her. Although like and love are totally different, Sula did not know this at the time. This situation demonstrates the power of motherhood, and how it creates a path for her children to follow. Eva, Hannah, and Sula all shared many of the same qualities. They all had the same outlook on many issues, attitudes with one another, and for the most part even the same outlook on guys. None of them had ever settled down with just one man, to start a family.
Throughout the novel, Morrison tries to teach people to be less judgmental of others. As time goes on many of the characters in Sula become more and more judgmental of each other, especially of Sula. They even take something so simple as her birthmark on her face that she can do nothing about, and make assumptions of her due to it. How characters in the novel perceive the shape of her birthmark says more about them than about her though. For example Nel’s husband Jude sees in her birthmark a snake, which can just be a reflection of his weakness to temptation. The townspeople would also keep blaming Sula for things she had no control over, such as the little boy that fell down the steps and the old man who swallowed a chicken bone. Only these are nothing but careless accidents. However, because of the towns set hatred of Sula, they all rally together against her. Birds fall from the sky when Sula returns to Medallion after college, and everyone considers this to be another one of her evils. Sula might not have been so bad though. There is a strong theme between good and bad in this novel. Many would just assume that Sula was bad and Nel was good. Only it was Sula that threw Chicken Little in the River, but it is Nel who does not cry at the funeral. Ironically though, Sula’s presence brings everyone in the town together, and when she dies, they fall apart. Morrison is trying to show us that it is wrong to make judgments on someone based on a bunch of rumors that could be untrue. Doing this just makes people feel lonely, as Sula was. She had no one. Although, in her case she did not care much for anyone in the town except for Nel, who she felt lonely without.The gift of friendship is something that should always be held onto. This is one lesson that was unfortunately is not realized by both Sula and Nel until it was too late. Sula and Nel had the gift of being best friends. During their younger years they were inseparable. When coming back to each other after being apart, it felt as if they had never been apart. They could even finish each other’s sentences. Both Sula and Nel were two halves of a whole, completing each other. It was just unfortunate that after Sula slept with Nel’s husband Jude, it ended up ruining their friendship. Regardless of the aforementioned incident, Morrison was trying to teach that if you have this kind of love between friends, you should never let go of it. Of course there are going to be fights and disagreements, but if the quality of being best friends is very valuable it should be saved.
Not only is Sula a great book, but there are also many very valuable lessons to be learned when reading it. The most important themes in Sula deal with mother-daughter relationships, the judging of people, and friendship. It is one of those books that allows the reader to take what she has learned and apply it to real life. Thus making Sula one book that every individual should read at one time or another during his or her life.
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