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Analysis

Literary Devices in Sula

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Birds are everywhere in Sula, and they are often associated with specific characters. When we meet Rochelle, she wears a "canary-yellow dress" and has the "glare of a canary" (1920.40-3.41). And we...

Setting

Sula is set in the Bottom, and most of the story takes place in the first half of the twentieth century. The residents of the Bottom are African-American and have to deal with constant discriminati...

Narrator Point of View

Sula is told in the third person, and the narrator is able to let us in on the inner thoughts of nearly every character in the novel. Since the story is so character-driven, the third person omnisc...

Genre

The genre of literary fiction has a lot to do with character, and the characters in Sula certainly drive the novel. Events and plot elements are important to the story, but we spend most of our tim...

Tone

Although we see a lot of ugliness in the characters, it is spread around fairly evenly. Morrison shows the good and bad in nearly all the major players, and she often follows up the most shocking a...

Writing Style

Morrison doesn't mince words, and she doesn't bury the important messages and events in overinflated, difficult language. While the ideas in the novel aren't simple, Morrison uses simple, meaningfu...

What's Up With the Title?

Sula is the main character of this story, the one who connects all the other characters to each other and the one around whom most of the action is centered. So it makes sense that her name is also...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

"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 epigraph is a line from a Tennessee Williams play called "The Rose Tatto...

What's Up With the Ending?

By the end of the novel Sula has died, most of the residents of the Bottom have died, and Nel finds herself alone. When she finally cries for the loss of her friendship with Sula, Nel opens up a lo...

Tough-o-Meter

There's a lot going on in Sula that requires us to read between the lines (or at least to read the lines more carefully). At the level of character, we have to be careful of jumping to conclusions...

Plot Analysis

Sula and Nel become friendsThe friendship between the two girls launches the rest of the events in the novel.Sula sleeps with Nel's husband, JudeAlthough other important events occur in their lives...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: None

Booker's Seven Basic Plots apply to many works of literature, but some texts just don't fit into any of these templates, and Sula is one of them. Maybe it's the unconventional plot, or maybe it's t...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Nel befriends Sula and they grow into adulthood together. Sula has an affair with Nel's husband.Nel and Sula see each other for the first time in three years. Sula fails to apologize or offer any r...

Trivia

Toni Morrison's real name is Chloe Anthony Wofford. (Source)Morrison wrote Sula while working as an editor at Random House. She was working in two literary roles at once. (Source)Morrison likes wri...

Steaminess Rating

There is a lot of talk about sex in the novel, and we read about one or two explicit sexual acts. Hannah and Sula have sex with a lot of married men. When Nel finds her husband and Sula in the act,...

Allusions

Tennessee Williams, "The Rose Tattoo" (epigraph) Tar Baby, from the Uncle Remus stories (1921.32)Chicken Little, children's book about the chicken who thinks that the sky is falling (1922.42) Ajax,...
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