Toni Morrison's World of Fiction

By Karen Carmean | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 3

After completing Sula in 1973, Morrison says that she knew she was a writer. 1 And as an indicator of talent, depth, and stylistic innovation, Sula assures Morrison's literary reputation. Superficially, the novel seems a continuation of themes and structures introduced in The Bluest Eye. Again, Morrison uses paired female characters; themes of identity, love, and responsibility; a vivid sense of community; shifting narrative perspectives; and rich use of irony and paradox. But Sula challenges readers in ways The Bluest Eye does not, primarily because of Morrison's presentation of evil and the structures she employs to reveal its polymorphic nature.

Divided into two roughly equal parts, with a prologue followed by chapter titles consisting of dates, Sula appears to move in a straightforward progression from 1919 to 1927 and then from 1937 to 1941, with "1965" as the novel's epilogue. But the events of various chapters don't necessarily occur during the dates indicated; indeed, the text spirals and laps back on itself, accruing sometimes changing or contradicting meanings as it goes. This demands the reader's concentrated effort, for Morrison here dramatizes her talent for using language as "both indicator and mask." 2Sula insists that readers put aside conventional expectations to enter a fictional world deliberately inverted to reveal a complex reality, a world in which evil may be a necessary good, where good may be exposed for its inherent evil, where murder and self-mutilation become acts of love, and where simple answers to ordinary human problems do not exist. Sula has drawn many critical essays that have attempted to give it a sys


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Toni Morrison's World of Fiction


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 132

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?