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Research paper topic: Toni Morrison: The Bluest Eye And Sula - 1124 words
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.. Claudia not only tells the story but tries to effect Pecola's fate through her own belief in the power of magic to transform present conditions. Claudia and Frieda attempt to influence Pecola's future by planting the marigolds correctly. They hope, as Pecola does with the offering to the dog, to bring a sort of sympathetic magic that will make Pecola's future more healthy. Unlike most fairy tales, The Bluest Eye does not have a happy ending. The Breedlove family is broken up and Pecola has gone insane.
Morrison made no attempt for a happy ending; in fact the book was primarily just to show the harsh realities of African- American life in the 1940's. The novel Sula is very similar to The Bluest Eye because it focuses on many of the same issues. Both novels are dark in a sense because neither book shies away from the realities of African-American life. Sula is a story that takes place in a fictional town called Medallion, Ohio. In an interview, Morrison explains her thoughts on the creation of Medallion, Ohio.
"When I wrote Sula, I was interested in making a town, the community, the neighborhood, as strong as a character as I could"(Stepto 11). Medallion, Ohio is a black community struggling to define itself against the racism that was so prevalent following the abolition of slavery. The town was actually founded as a second chance, or some hope for former slaves. This type of town lends itself more easily to the folklore tradition because it stands for the power of dreams and a change from the harsh realities of slavery. The characters in Sula also lend themselves easily to the folklore tradition because they seem very unreal and magical.
The characters Sula and Shadrack are both looked at as monsters. Like characters in an oral tale their evilness is exaggerated to show what is good. The idea of defining by opposites is very popular in Morrison's novels, especially in Sula. Morrison asks the question "How would we know what black is if there were no white? How would we know good if there were no evil?" Morrison uses Sula and Shadrack to help the Medallion community define itself. Sula and Shadrack's differences must be labeled so that the rest of the community can go about their business. Since the people of Medallion have no words to explain Sula and Shadrack they just label them as crazy and evil. "Imagination gives the community diversity from its own stupored monotony; it comes to make a monster out of their differences.
Sula's don't give a damn attitude makes her an easy target for tales, for she lacks the egotistical concern for reputation" (Harris 63). But, in a strange way the townspeople welcome Sula's rebelliousness, her violations of the social codes of their community. "Their conviction of Sula's evil," Morrison's narrator tells us, changes " the towns people in accountable yet mysterious ways." Defining their lives in contrast to Sula's"(Century 48). The people of the bottom use Sula to define what is evil. After Sula returns from her ten year long absence from Medallion, Sula begins to sleep with just about every man in the city black, or white. Sula is regarded as a "slut" among the community. But after her return, the people of the town start behaving better than they had before. The women of Medallion begin to cherish their husbands more and treat their kids better.
Everyone in the community joins together to band the evil that is in their midst. Shadrack, like Sula helps the community define what is sanity. "Shadrack provides diversion from their normalcy; though they do not wish to emulate him, his antics make them secure in their own identities"(Harris 61). This idea of defining by opposites is also in The Bluest eye. Pauline Breedlove needs her drunk, sinful Husband to make her sanctified. This idea of defining by opposites is the underground bases in racism. Morrison uses this in such a way to show the patterns and problems in human nature.
A major theme in Sula and also in The Bluest Eye is one that is directly rooted in African-American folklore. It is the idea of evil, and it dominates every aspect of Sula. In an interview with Toni Morrison, Morrison comments on her use of evil in Sula. "Now I was certainly very much interested in the question of evil in Sula- in fact, that's what it was all about"(Childress 8). Morrison uses the folklore tradition to show how the black race accepts evil unlike the white race.
"It never occurs to the people of Medallion to kill Sula. Black people never annihilate evil. They don not run it out of their neighborhoods, chop it up or burn it up. They don't have witch hangings. They accept it, almost like a forth dimension in their lives. They try to protect themselves from evil, of course, but they do not have that puritanical thing which says if you see a witch, then burn it, or if you see something than kill it"(Childress 8).
The evil that is seen in Sula is one that is borrowed from the Tradition of African-American folklore. Since the times of the slaves, blacks accepted evil like a fourth addition to the trinity. Slave masters tried to convert the slaves to Christianity by stressing the power of the devil and the condemnation of hell. The same acceptance of evil is also seen in The Bluest Eye. When Mr. Henry molested Frieda, she didn't even hate him, she just accepted his actions as normal. Also, after Pecola was raped by Cholly, she did not dispise him she just let it add to her destruction of her self.
The influence of African- American folklore is all over the novels The Bluest Eye and Sula. With Morrison demanding participatory reading just like an oral tale to the evil and strangeness in some of her characters, Morrison tells stories rich with African- American folklore. Her settings, characters, and the issues she explores, tell of the history of the Black race in America. The oral tradition of African- American folklore is a way for Morrison to educate and analyze what the black race is all about. Work Cited Page Century, Douglas.
Toni Morrison: Author New York: Chelsea Publishing, 1994 Childress, Alice. "Conversations with Toni Morrison" "Conversation with Alice Childress and Toni Morrison" Black Creation Annual. New York: Library of Congress, 1994. Pages 3-9 Harris, Trudier. Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison Knoxville: The university of Tennessee press, 1991 Morrison, Toni.
Sula. New York: Plume, 1973 Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Plume, 1970 Stepto, Robert. "Conversations with Toni Morrison" Intimate Things in Place: A conversation with Toni Morrison. Massachusetts Review. New York: Library of Congress, 1991. Pages 10- 29.
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