Analysis of The Connection Between Themes in Toni Morrison’s Novel Sula

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

What is a theme? A theme is a thing that describes the main idea or central message of a story, book, or poem. Most of the time, stories will contain multiple themes. Some common themes that most stories share, are themes such as: love, hate, bravery, fate, good vs evil, jealousy, hope, justice, loyalty, perseverance, revenge, and death. In Sula, Toni Morrison develops the themes of Love & Sexuality, Race & Racism, and Women, Motherhood, & Gender Roles the most throughout the story using the setting, characters actions, and interactions.

Love & Sexuality

One of the greatest challenges of reading Sula is seeing how the characters can do certain things that, on the surface, show up pitiless, while they claim to be acting out of love. At times, the character’s affection for one another drives them to become harmful and slaughter each other. There’s no better case of this than Eva’s affectionate murder. She’s continuously cherished her most youthful child, Ralph, and almost murdered herself attempting to raise him through long winters. When Ralph returns from World War I with an addiction to drugs, Eva couldn’t stand to see her adored child going mad. She douses him in fuel and lights him on fire, certain that she’s putting him out of the agonies of compulsion and trauma from the war.

While Ralph is fully-grown, Eva can’t see herself giving him permission to live his life without her offer of assistance. Since Eva the loyal mother can not provide care for Ralph, she chooses to end his life. Toni Morrison displays the theme of Love & Sexuality the most, in chapters 1921 and 1965. Looking into 1921, an example of this is during Eva’s first time being a single mom during the winter. During this time, Eva gave up her possession of joy and wellbeing for her kids, giving her final bites of nourishment to her youngest, Ralph, who was a small child at the time. Eva at that point gave her children over to the Suggs family, stating she’d eventually come back for them. However, when she returned 18 months afterward, she had been deduced to one leg. Eva, clearly well-off, gave the Suggs family ten dollars for their inconveniences, took her kids, and continued to construct them a expansive home. She made income by leasing out BoyBoy’s cabin.

Switching gears, looking into 1965, an example of this theme is in the moment where Nel, who is fifty five at the time, contemplates her life. Her three kids are now adults and don’t really take up much of her time. After Jude left, she attempted to remarry, but no one would marry her because she had three kids. Nel still adores her kids, but she accepts that her children progressively don’t pay attention to her. In this time of the story, Nel’s life is becoming hollow—she’s losing all association with her kids, or at the slightest, accepts that she is. It appears that she never gave up on the conviction that she might as it were, discover genuine love with a spouse. In Sula, love is nearly inconceivable to really give it a meaning.

Mostly since it’s difficult to interpret, and mostly since Sula and Nel were brought up in a sexually corrupted community, the female characters of the this community attempt to come to holds with love by lessening it to nothing more than intercourse with a man. In a way, the calamity of Sula is that Nel and Sula, confronted with a world in which love appears unusual and incomprehensible, attempt to discover love through desirability, and in doing so, surrender the most vital shape of love in their lives: their affection for each other.

Race & Racism

Sula examines the ways that African Americans fight to live in America, a nation with a infamous history of mistreating and abusing them. African American characters within the novel confront the weight of a history in which white Americans have constantly cheated blacks out of their property and their rights by controlling laws, social standards, and even dialect itself. Within the city of Medallion, where the story is set, African Americans have customarily been placed into the Bottom—ironically the region with the most noteworthy elevation, and the minimum alluring neighborhood of the city. Whites guaranteed African Americans some acres on the Bottom, but suddenly withdrew their agreement by selling pieces of land within the hills.

As the story goes on, we see more of this white control of the African American community, but getting to be increasingly conniving. In retaliation to the prejudices that their facing, numerous African Americans who live within the Bottom respect white culture with scorn. But since white culture has shaped society, African Americans within the novel have no other concrete standard for magnificence and modernity other than whiteness. In this way, numerous African American characters within the Bottom are having desperation to connect the white community. Characters fix their hair and horrendously turn their own noses in an endeavor to “look white.” Inevitably, a few blacks within the community obtain sufficient cash and control to move into the white neighborhoods of Medallion.

However when this happens, the white communities pack up and relocate, leaving the city of Medallion isolated. Blacks’ wanting to connect with white communities comes to appear like another naïve, inaccessible objective. Toni Morrison displays the theme of Race & Racism the most, in chapter 1941. Looking into 1941, an example of this is when around the same time that Sula passes away, it’s reported that the constructors of a new road will at last take in African American labor. This is energizing for the individuals of the Bottom, as they’re beyond any doubt they’ll get a great deal of work openings.

Another unusual piece of news comes as well which is, remodel work is being done to the nursing home where Eva presently lives. The nursing home is being remodeled to be entirely new and modern. It’s pivotal to see the position of race and prejudices within Sula. The African American characters within the novel, were taught to look at themselves as lower class citizens, to despise their place in life, and to despise each other just for being African American. Through composing this story, which is about the African American involvement within the last century, Toni Morrison considers how a variety of certain citizens seek for advancement in a world that’s been developed to make this advancement inconceivable.

Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles

In spite of the fact that Sula moves between numerous distinctive characters’ points of view, it is nearly completely told from the perspective of ladies living within the Bottom. Often, the men within the story can’t be held down for long: either their occupations keep them absent from their homes, or their want for freedom leads them to ditch their households. As a result, it is to no shock that Toni Morrison provides numerous experiences into the lives of ladies and their hand in their communities. One quality that characterizes numerous women in this story is motherhood. In spite of the fact that many of the moms within the story go away from their hometown in Ohio for a long amount of time, they’re more probable to come back to look after their kids. As a result of the increased attendance of moms within the lives of their kids, the bond between a mom and her kid is outstandingly solid. Another imperative kind of ladylike bond in this novel, apparently indeed more vital than motherhood, is simply the bond of friendship.

And however there’s continuously an verifiable issue within the companionships between ladies. As well regularly, women are instructed that they must discover a spouse, or always just be imperfect. We are able to see this when Sula and Nel, back when they were both just twelve, go off to look for some handsome looking boys—an scene of their lives that eventually propels them to separate from each other and ruin their companionship. A long time afterward, Sula, persuaded that she must discover intimacy and comprehension through sexual inter course, gets in bed with Jude—who is Nel’s spouse—wrecking her friends marriage and concluding her and Nel’s companionship forever. When ladies are persuaded that looking for a guy is their pinnacle motive in their life, they’ll contemplate their companionships with other ladies to be as it were of subsidiary significance.

Toni Morrison displays the theme of Women, Motherhood, and Gender Roles the most, in chapter 1921. Looking into 1921, an example of this is when Eva carries on with looking after her household alone after BoyBoy leaves. She let her kinfolk visit her home, where she gave them shelter. She moreover takes in numerous guests, inclusive of little kids who had no place to go. We gain the perception that Eva takes on more obligations to demonstrate to herself that she is more of a grown-up than her husband BoyBoy. Eva is simply doing this in order to exact retribution for BoyBoy’s disloyalty and to demonstrating the power that she truly possesses. In this story, Morrison displays how the connections between the females hold households and communities simultaneously. However, numerous female companionships in this story are destroyed since society educates ladies that their motive in life is simply to go head to head for a spouse and form a modern household.


In Sula, Toni Morrison develops the themes of Love & Sexuality, Race & Racism, and Women, Motherhood, & Gender Roles the most throughout the story using the setting, characters actions, and interactions. Looking back at Love & Sexuality, we see how in Sula, love is basically the generic man and woman relatioship and how sexulaity is simply the generic straight sexuality. We also see how those two things dominate everyone’s lives and how they also can contribute to conflict. In today’s society, love is more than just a man and woman relationship–now we have woman to woman relationships and man to man relationships. We even have all these different sexualities coming up as well. Just like in Sula, these different types of new relationships and sexualities also cause conflict in today’s world. Looking back at Race & Racism, we see how in Sula, African Americans go through the harsh treatments of white americans.

How they are mistreated, abused, spoken to out of turn, and taken advantage of. We also see how African Americans in this story let that be what drives them to push for equality. We also see how race and racism lead to conflict as well. In today’s society, racism has really stuck around and has gotten worse these days. Not that we see it everyday at any moment like it was back in the 50s and 60s, but the fact that a percentage of white americans to this day are still mistreating african americans and looking at Latinos the way they do, and america witnessing all these police brutalities just says enough about how racism still largely exist today. Looking at Women, Motherhood, & Gender Roles, we see how in Sula, women are being held to a generic standard.

Their only purpose is to find a man, have sexual intercourse, have a family, and stay at home taking care of the children and pretty much being the helpmate to the man. And if the man leaves, then they carry the load of the family, and struggle to do so. It’s almost as if the women in this book are just powerless without having a man in their lives. In today’s world, that perspective has totally changed. Women now have more equal rights as opposed to the rights they had back in the 20th century. They also are no longer just seen as sexualized symbols as well. Women today are very powerful with or without a man. They are able to take care of their families with or without a man too. Women are no longer looked at as just helpmates to the man and no longer looked down on either. Women today are just stronger and are breaking glass ceilings all he time. Just like we now have more women in congress, and how we just had nearly the first female president. But of course, just like in Sula, women doing anything out of the norm causes conflict. Overall, the things we see take place in Sula, still widely-to a lesser degree in some cases-happen in today’s society. The themes in Toni Morrison’s story are very much incorporated into today’s world.


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