Toni Morrison, "Sula", "1922" : a new friendship
Analysis of an excerpt from the chapter "1922" in Sula by Toni Morrison. The passage under study is situated just before Chicken Little's death; it is not an eventful passage but it offers an interesting description of Sula and Nel's new friendship, and as such it provides the reader with key information and important clues to understand the following episodes better.
[...] Of course, Nel Wright and Sula Peace came from two different worlds. Nel came from an orderly, tidy home, Sula, from disorder and chaos. Nel’s mother was custard-colored, Sula’s was sooty. Nel’s lighter skin was likened to wet sandpaper, Sula’s skin was heavy and brown. Nel seemed to be fragile, maybe because of her skin which cannot protect her from danger and many problems. It’s a proof that order does not work. Sula seemed to have quiet eyes, so she seemed to be relaxed, cool, peaceful (in a certain way her name (Peace) could confirm that). [...]
[...] And how did they manage to maintain “tension and balance” ? They were together, next to each other. Finally, the hard reality is introduced by “daughters of distant mothers and incomprehensible fathers”. This is a common point, but so sad. Then, we know was the color of wet sandpaper just dark enough to escape the blows of the pitch-black truebloods and the contempt of old women That’s to say Nel would not have been protected at all if she had been less dark. [...]
[...] For instance, Nel was “surrounded by the high silence of her mother’s incredibly orderly house, feeling the neatness pointing at her back” ; Sula was “wedged into a household of throbbing disorder constantly awry with things, people, voices and the slamming doors”. It seems like they were smothering, suffocating. How did the two girls do to live without affection, surrounded by incomprehension ? Each child needs to be well-treated. In a certain way, they made good their lack of love with their friendship : they could escape from reality since together they weren’t two but only one person. At the age of 12, we are fragile, vulnerable, we don’t have a vast experience of life. [...]
[...] That’s why in a certain way Friendship can soothe reality. Because of the fact they had discovered that “they were neither white nor male, and that all freedom and triumph was forbidden to them, they had set to creating something else to First, they had met in dreams, which seems original. Dreaming isn’t living. Nonetheless, because of their dreaming, they could live better. The theme of Reverie introduces the theme of Friendship. Indeed, it is said that Nel and Sula, the two girls “wishbone and easy- assed”, already made each other’s acquaintance in the delirium of their noon dreams” ; they were equals despite their differences. [...]