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Sula

Sula - 04 edition

ISBN13: 978-1400033430

Cover of Sula 04 (ISBN 978-1400033430)
ISBN13: 978-1400033430
ISBN10: 1400033438
Cover type: Paperback
Edition/Copyright: 04
Publisher: Vintage Books
Published: 2004
International: No

List price: $15.00

Sula - 04 edition

ISBN13: 978-1400033430

Toni Morrison

ISBN13: 978-1400033430
ISBN10: 1400033438
Cover type: Paperback
Edition/Copyright: 04
Publisher: Vintage Books

Published: 2004
International: No
Summary

Sula has the same power, the same beauty.

At its center--a friendship between two women, a friendship whose intensity first sustains, then injures. Sula and Nel--both black, both smart, both poor, raised in a small Ohio town--meet when they are twelve, wishbone thin and dreaming of princes.

Through their girlhood years they share everything--perceptions, judgments, yearnings, secrets, even crime--until Sula gets out, out of the Bottom, the hilltop neighborhood where beneath the sporting life of the men hanging around the place in headrags and soft felt hats there hides a fierce resentment at failed crops, lost jobs, thieving insurance men, bug-ridden flour...at the invisible line that cannot be overstepped.

Sula leaps it and roams the cities of America for ten years. Then she returns to the town, to her friend. But Nel is a wife now, settled with her man and her three children. She belongs. She accommodates to the Bottom, where you avoid the hand of God by getting in it, by staying upright, helping out at church suppers, asking after folks--where you deal with evil by surviving it.

Not Sula. As willing to feel pain as to give pain, she can never accommodate. Nel can't understand her any more, and the others never did. Sula scares them. Mention her now, and they recall that she put her grandma in an old folks' home (the old lady who let a train take her leg for the insurance)...that a child drowned in the river years ago...that there was a plague of robins when she first returned...

In clear, dark, resonant language, Toni Morrison brilliantly evokes not only a bond between two lives, but the harsh, loveless, ultimately mad world in which that bond is destroyed, the world of the Bottom and its people, through forty years, up to the time of their bewildered realization that even more than they feared Sula, their pariah, they needed her.

Table of Contents

Reading Group Guide 1. What is the significance of the quote at the start of the book, ''Nobody knew my rose of the world but me. . . .I had too much glory. They don't want glory like that in nobody's heart.'' (The Rose Tattoo) How does this set the stage for the novel. 2. The novel begins by telling the reader that the Bottom, the neighborhood above Medallion, will soon be gone, replaced by the Medallion City Golf Course. How does knowing that the Bottom will soon be gone influence the rest of the novel? How does this description imply that things are not what they appear to be on the surface? 3. What are some possible reasons Eva's decision to go downstairs and light the fire, ''the smoke of which was in her hair for years''? How does this make you feel about her character? Was this an act of sacrifice or selfishness? Can Eva be described as ''good'' or ''bad''? 4. Eva gave her children to a neighbor and returned 18 months later, minus one leg. What is the possible symbolic significance of Eva's missing leg? How does it tie into the theme of deceptive appearances in the novel? 5. Sula contains some adult language and themes. Is this book appropriate for high school students? Are African Americans portrayed in a positive or negative light in the book? What about the portrayal of white people? 6. The novel takes place over the course of 45 years. How do relations between the races change over the course of the novel? How are the inhabitants of the Bottom and Medallion changed by what's going on in the world around them? 7. One reviewer commented that Sula is ''a complex story of friendship and disappointment, death and sex, desperation and vulnerability'' (Gayle Sims, Knight-Ridder Newspaper). How would you characterize the novel? 8. Sula and Nel become friends and later seem to be each other's alter egos. How does Nel's decision to marry inform Sula's life? How does Sula's leaving influence Nel?