Top positive review
Sula on what it means to be a woman. (Spoiler alert)
Reviewed in the United States on April 22, 2018
This novel describes the significant differences in the upbringings of Nel Wright and Sula Peace, two young girls and best friends who eventually separate due to betrayal and unrealized character. In the community of the Bottom in the city of Medallion, Ohio, Nel Wright was brought up in a conventional household, her mother teaching her to abide to the expectations of society. Sula Peace, on the other hand, was raised in a household as unconventional as can be. Living with her mother Hannah and her grandmother Eva, both who are seen by the town as loose and lacking moral. Despite the major differences in their home-life, and Nel’s mother’s opinion on Hannah Peace, Nel and Sula were inseparable. Following a traumatic incident, the drowning of a child, the two grew apart.
Years later, Nel decides to conform to the life that society expects of her as loyal wife and mother. Sula, on the other hand, leads an entirely unconventional life, which is evident when she returns to the Bottom after leaving for 10 years following Nel’s wedding. Sula’s return was seen as a return of evil by the people of the Bottom. As Sula’s return came “accompanied by a plague of robins,” (89) the robins became a sign of evil to the people. The news that Sula had put her grandmother in a home and her involvement in interracial relationships secured the towns view of her as evil. The ending of her and Nel’s friendship, however, came as a result of Sula’s affair with Nel’s husband, who then left Nel.
Nel blames Sula for the ending of their friendship, as well as the destruction of her marriage and confronts Sula when visiting after hearing of Sula’s sickness. Sula reveals to her that just because Nel thought she was good, doesn't mean she was the good one. She says “How you know?...About who was good? How you know it was you?” (146). Nel’s encounter with Eva secures this notion of Nel’s skewed perception of her own goodness. As Eva neglects to recognize that Nel is not Sula because they are the same, saying “You. Sula. What’s the difference?” (168). Morrison is making a statement about the ambiguity of good and evil. Though Sula was technically responsible for the death of the child, Nel was no better, feeling pleasure watching the child be engulfed by the surrounding water.
Ultimately, Sula refers to the question “what determines good and evil?” through the genius characterization of Nel Wright and deep description of the life of Sula Peace. I rate this book 5 stars and would definitely recommend reading this thought-provoking book.