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Analyzing Texts: Sula

By Edited Oct 30, 2016 0 0

Heya, folks. Not only did Daedalus construct wax wings for Icarus and the labyrinth for the Minotaur, I'm here to build a guide on accurate and easy essay writing! 

For this example I am going to use a book I have just completed: Sula by Toni Morrison. An excellent book, I suggest checking out your local thrift books and picking it up. 

 

sula

So, I have found that when given a prompt and asked to answer it and explain, students are more confused than when they are given open-ended assignments. This article is going to delineate methods for handling prompts.

First, let's say you're given four prompts to choose from. The best way to determine which prompt you should write about is usually whichever one you hate the most and have the most information to back up. The reason I say whichever one you hate is simply because what tends to happen when you write about something you like is you get more emotional than practical. Always write about book you don't like you'll be more critical!

Now instead of telling you how to answer a prompt I am going to show you, step by step! Woohoo!


Discuss the relationships in Sula and how oppression affects relationships.

 

The relationships that exist in Sula are complex: Sula and Nel, Sula and her mom Hannah, Nel and her mom Helene, to name the obvious ones. (It's easy to start--begin with this sort of over-view statement. You are showing that you know the relationships are complex, obviously or this question wouldn't be asked, and you give examples to show your knowledge)

Morrision’s statement that friendship is special when it pertains to women—even more so with black women—is true because of the social structure that gives preference to white males. The oppression, then, affects not only the individual, but the community of oppressed and how they thrive under that environment is seen in Sula. (The second portion of the prompt asks how oppression affects relationships, so it's a good thing to briefly survey that before getting into specific details)

The oppression comes in more forms than misogyny and racism, however, but from within the family dynamic and the black community also. The psychological impact can be explicitly seen in Shadrack, who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and his initiation of Suicide Day—a day to kill yourself or others. Despite this, and due to his race, Shadrack is considered to be an intolerable drunk. (Here, I have begun to discuss Shadrack and how oppression has affected him directly...now we need to connect it to another character/theme/event in the book:)

Sula is akin to Shadrack in that she, too, is unconventional in her actions and thoughts. Sula and Shadrack have both gone through psychological trauma, though the situations in each vary tremendously. Sula and Nel are opposites at a young age, and as they grow up the opposition becomes more evident. Sula and Nel share some of the type of emotion, towards their family and yearning for what the other has. What alters from the relationship between Sula and Nel to Sula and Shadrack is gender and sanity. (If you bring in as many characters as I have in a sort time, be sure to tie them all together and show why you are talking about them otherwise it'll be seen as a waste of time in an essay)

Though it could be posited that Sula is “insane” because she shows no emotion, no remorse, and no empathy—it is easier to understand that Shadrack’s “insanity” is another social construction. Sula is an outcast for her sexuality, for stepping over the white/black binary and being sexual active with white men, which further shows internalized racism. The community of the Bottom perceives this deconstruction as something disgusting, as if Sula is a traitor, because of the racism and misogyny that is ingrained in the culture. Women can’t have sexual freedom, no matter the race. The oppression hinders, to an extent, the intimate relationships one could create had the boundaries, the oppression and its ramifications, not existed.

(Now the essay offcuses on oppression and how it has shaped characters.)

This is obvious in the mother/daughter relationships where if things had been different, things might be different. The family dynamic of the Peace family—a matriarch family—shows this effect.  Slavery and Boyboy leaving affected Eva, Eva’s occupation and survival attitude effected Hannah, and Hannah’s affairs influence Sula. The bird’s eye view of the Peace family exemplifies a post-structuralism idea: culture shapes people, people shape culture and people influence other people.  (This is a neat, tidy ending, if rushed. I would extend this essay further and give more examples pertaining to Sula/Nel and Sula/her mom. 

Another good thing you should be able to do is to read over your essay and determine what could be better about it! 

Good luck with all your writing!

 

 

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