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Toni Morrison's novel, "Sula", has been hailed by several critics as a remarkable expression of the feminist ideology. To accurately understand this novel, it is necessary to focus on symbols used throughout.

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Dan Fernandes Eng 105 4/7/2011 The Subtle and Not so Subtle Symbols of "Sula" Toni Morrison novel, Sula, has been hailed by several critics as a remarkable expression of the feminist ideology. To accurately understand this novel, it is necessary to focus on symbols used throughout. While many of the symbols used throughout, whether flowers, fire, water or the mysterious repeating of the number "4", Life and culture in the "Bottom". Sula is set in the Bottom, and most of the story takes place in the first half of the twentieth century. The Bottom sits above a valley occupied by middle-class whites. Although they live in close proximity, blacks and whites rarely interact with each other in the novel. When they do, the encounters are marked by racial tension. The residents of the Bottom are African-American and have to deal with constant discrimination and racism. Many of the characters struggle to make ends meet. The events in Sula span much of the twentieth century, during a time of great changes in civil rights for African Americans and other minority groups. Race binds communities together and creates a shared sense of identity, culture, and tradition. The main character of Sula, has a birthmark over one of her eyes. Depending on their perception of her, people think the birthmark looks like different things: a stemmed rose, a snake, or Hannah's ashes. ...read more.


Here are all of the uses of the word "four" in Sula. "Shadrack took the plunge. Four steps and he was on the grass heading for the gate." (11) "Through his tears he saw the fingers joining the laces, tentatively at first, then rapidly. The four fingers of each hand fused into the fabric, knotted themselves and zigzagged in and out of the tiny eyeholes." (13) "Then, on subsequent National Suicide Days, the grown people looked out from behind curtains as he rang his bell; a few stragglers increased their speed, and little children screamed and ran. The tetter heads tried goading him (although he was only four or five years older then they) but not for long, for his curses were stingingly personal."(15) "Helene licked her lips. "Oh...I..." Her glance moved beyond the white man's face to the passengers seated behind him. Four or five black faces were watching, two belonging to soldiers still in their shit-colored uniforms and peaked caps." (21) "She looked around for the other woman and, seeing just the top of her head rag in the grass, slowly realized where "yonder" was. All of them, the fat woman and her four children, three boys and a girl, Helene and her daughter, squatted there in the four o'clock Meridian sun."(24) "Then it was she who carried the gardenia smell. ...read more.


The house billowed around her light then dark, full of presences without sounds."(146) "The normal meanness that the winter brought was compounded by the small-spiritedness that hunger and scarlet fever produced. Even a definite and witnessed interview of four colored men (and the promise of more in the spring) at the tunnel site could not break the cold vise of that lean and bitter year's end."(154) "Nevertheless, the sun splashed on a larger and larger crowd that strutted, skipped, marched, and shuffled down the road. When they got down to where the sidewalk started, some of them stopped and decided to turn back, too embarrassed to enter the white part of town whooping like banshees. But except for three or four, the fainthearted were put to shame by the more aggressive and abandoned, and the parade danced down Main Street past Woolworth's and the old poultry house, turned right and moved on down the New River Road."(160) "When she got to Sunnydale, the home for the aged, it was already four o'clock and turning chill. She would be glad to sit down with those old birds and rest her feet." (166) "They came in a police van and carried the body down the steps past the four pear trees and into the van for all the world as with Hannah."(172) So the number four has some significance in the story, but its meaning and reason for being repeated is still remains a mystery. Select a folder to add item ...read more.

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