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by Toni Morrison

Sula Theme of Loyalty

Loyalty takes many forms in Sula. We see how parents display loyalty to their children by doing whatever is necessary to ensure their survival. We see friends who remain loyal to each other even when one hates the other. And we see failures of loyalty as men leave their wives, family members abandon each other, and best friends betray each other. Loyalty, or the lack of it, characterizes most of the relationships in the novel, and many of the complications and difficulties that arise stem from different ideas about what loyalty is.

Questions About Loyalty

  1. Is loyalty really as important as it seems to the characters in the novel?
  2. Do ideas of loyalty mean different things depending on context? For example, is loyalty to family somehow different from loyalty to friends?
  3. What might happen if everyone in the novel threw loyalty out the window?
  4. Is Sula always loyal to Nel?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Characters in the novel judge each other by their loyalty, or lack of it. They have no real interest in loyalty unless they feel they're not getting it.

Loyalty can be a powerful and beneficial force. It makes people consider someone other than themselves and creates important bonds.

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