The Bluest Eye & Sula: Notes

The Bluest Eye & Sula: Notes

The Bluest Eye & Sula: Notes

The Bluest Eye & Sula: Notes


The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background.


  • Life and Background of the Author
  • Introduction to the Novels
  • Brief Synopses
  • List of Characters
  • Critical Commentaries
  • Character Analyses
  • Critical Essays
  • Essay Topics and Review Questions
  • Selected Bibliography

    Just after the end of World War I, Shadrack, a black, shell-shocked veteran, is released from the military hospital where he is being treated for battle stress. Alone and disoriented, Shadrack drifts back to his home in the Bottom, where he becomes known for his eccentricity and for creating National Suicide Day, January 3, a day once a year on which people can commit suicide and not be stigmatized for doing so.

    Helene Sabat, the daughter of a New Orleans prostitute, marries Wiley Wright, a man from the Bottom, and establishes a respectable home there. During a journey by train back to New Orleans to visit her ailing, beloved grandmother, she is humiliated by a bigoted white conductor. Her daughter, Nel, watches and vows never to let anyone belittle her so cruelly.

    One-legged Eva Peace, her daughter Hannah, and Hannah’s child, Sula, live in a large house filled with friends, extended family, and assorted boarders. The matriarchal Eva rules the household from a rocking chair fitted into a child’s wagon. Her son, Plum, returns from World War I emotionally wrecked and sinks under his sadness into alcoholism and drug addiction. Eva’s devotion to Plum does not allow her to watch him decay, so, after rocking him to sleep one night, she kills him by dousing his bed with kerosene and lighting it.

    Sula and Nel begin a friendship and are soon threatened by a gang of harassing Irish Catholic white boys. Sula slices off the tip of her finger as a warning to the boys, and neither she nor Nel is bothered by them again. One day, on the bank of a river, Sula is swinging a little boy named Chicken Little...

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