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MonkeyNotes-Sula by Toni Morrison
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LITERARY/HISTORICAL INFORMATION

Sula is considered by many critics to be Toni Morrison's best book. Although it has not won the number of awards that some of her later books have earned, it is noted for its plain structure, sparkling language, and intense investigation of human questions--much like her other books, but with a simplicity and blunt reality all its own. Sula has been compared to Zora Neal Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God and was, indeed, published not long after that book enjoyed a resurrection in the early 1970s. Morrison's style, filled with figurative language, has similarities to Hurston's style.


As Morrison's works become more and more popular (many of her books have been best sellers and won her the highest literary honors), more critical analysis is being done on them. She is studied from the Black perspective and the feminist perspective. In Sula she portrays two Black women with very different outlooks about themselves and life. While Sula judges her life as "wrong," Nel believes that she herself is the picture of goodness and propriety. Within their own perceptions, they each make choices and do the best they can, continuing to change and test their affections for each other and the people around them. As a chronicle of the lives of Black women from small mid-western towns in the first half of the century, the book has no equal. As a chronicle of the human heart, it is sympathetic and honest.

Many of Morrison's books are historical and usually cover a span of time that includes the history of a person's life, as in Sula. They are usually not easy stories with "happy" endings. Instead, her books chart lives as they are really led and celebrate the true human moments of triumph and realization. In this sense, Morrison's stories are honest and "true," and are guaranteed a distinguished placement not only in the history of African- American literature, but in American literature as a whole.

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