Sula By Toni Morrison:The Friendship Of Sula And Nel
While Sula and Nel are playing near the river on a summer day, when they come across another boy named Chicken Little. When he is playing with Sula, she “picked him up by his hands and swung him outward then around and around”. Afterwards, Chicken Little “slipped from her hands and sailed away out over the water” where he drowned. Sula and Nel seem to be two innocent girls who are having fun playing. However, as the story develops, readers are shown this friendship leads to external conflicts. Being Sula is the leader of the pair due to her chaotic background and family life, she seems to drag Nel into trouble.
This foreshadows that Nel would be the follower in the friendship while Sula would peer pressure her into trouble with the law. It can be predicted that Nel would give in more and more into Sula’s problems, which can be seen when she pulled out a knife, threatening the white boys.
After the funeral, Sula and Nel walked home holding hands with guilt as they “knew that only the coffin would lie in the earth” but Chicken Little’s laugh would be with them forever. While walking, “they relaxed slowly… wondering what happened to butterflies in the winter”.
It can be seen that after Chicken Little’s funeral, both the girls immediately felt guilty about his death. Sula and Nel walk home holding hands, but readers see that they quickly forget about the murder as thoughts began to wander, such as butterflies.Clearly, the murder does not seem like a big deal to the girls as they forget about it quickly. This can foreshadow larger, more complex conflicts in the future as they get away with the death of Chicken Little/do not understand that it is a big deal.
What is the significance of Eva’s survival despite its irony?
When Hannah was outside trying to light a fire, she accidentally caught herself on fire, which made Eva jump out of a window to save her. After both women were injured, an ambulance took them. However, “Hannah died on the way to the hospital”. Also, Eva was forgotten and was left without help, but Willy Fields saved her. This scene can be a climax because the death of Sula’s mother can impact the young girl and her childhood development. Without a mother figure to teach her the difference of right and wrong, this foreshadows Sula getting into more trouble. It is ironic that despite all of this chaos, Eva comes out alive. Even though Eva is much older, has one leg, jumped out of a window, and was forgotten at the hospital, she somehow remains alive “for thirty-seven years thereafter”.
Because of Eva’s cruel nature caused from from BoyBoy’s divorce, she could possibly take on Sula’s mother figure and influence her in a negative manner. Based on the way Eva treats the Deweys, this could cause Sula to become very violent as she grows older and develops her own identity.
What can be predicted from Sula’s behavior based on events in this section?
After Eva survives the fall from a window and leaves the hospital alive, she recalls a memory when she was crawling to Hannah. “She had seen Sula standing on the back porch just looking”. While friends doubted her, thinking Sula was shocked, Eva believes that Sula “had watched Hannah burn not because she was paralyzed, but because she was interested”.
This observation shows evidence that Sula’s cruel nature is already developing because she did not help save her mother, Hannah. This can be drawn parallel to the death of Chicken Little because after being thrown into the water, Sula and Nel just stared and did not attempt to even save him. These two deaths slowly reveal Sula’s true intentions as more death is foreshadowed for the rest of the novel.
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