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MonkeyNotes-Sula by Toni Morrison
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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTING

The real story of Sula takes place within a frame narrative. The first and last chapters take place around the year 1965. The ten chapters in the middle take place in the years between 1919 and 1940, telling Sula's story. The setting is in an area known as "The Bottom," which is a hilly area above the valley town of Medallion, Ohio. For the most part, black inhabitants live in The Bottom and white landowners live in the valley. There is a story behind the settlement of The Bottom, a story that has become a significant piece of local lore. In the previous century, a slave owner promised his slave freedom and a piece of rich bottomland in exchange for some difficult work. The slave did the work and got his freedom; but the slave-owner played a trick on him in regard to the land.


He gave the freed slave land at the top of a hill, rather than in the rich bottomland that is good for farming. He told the slave the hill was indeed bottomland--the Bottom of heaven, closer to God. The slave felt lucky to have it, but soon learned the truth of this cruel trick. The planting was difficult, the soil washed away, and the wind blew hard. In spite of the hardship, The Bottom soon developed into a lovely town with close-knit inhabitants. By 1965, the rich white neighbors in the valley have decided they like The Bottom better than their valley and proceed to level the small black town in order to build a golf course and fancy houses. The Blacks are forced to move into the valley.

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