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Please help me answer this question! quoted form Morrison in the forward of Sula......

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jeffra | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 19, 2010 at 3:16 AM via web

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Please help me answer this question!

quoted form Morrison in the forward of Sula...

"outlaw women are fascinating not always for their behavior, but because historically women are seen as naturally disruptive and their status is an illegal one from birth if it is not under the rule of men. In much literature a woman's escape from male rule led to regret, misery, if not complete disaster. In Sula I wanted to explore the consequences of what that escape might be, on not only a conventional black society, but on female friendship."

How does Toni Morrison explore the idea of female freedom in Sula? How does Morrison characterize the female characters? Are they able to escape male rule and conventional black society? What are the consequences for these choices? What is Morrison communicating through these women?

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michaelinthesea | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted May 19, 2010 at 4:10 AM (Answer #1)

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Toni Morrison explores the idea of female freedom in Sula, but the nuances and gradations of meaning are complicated as well by race. In traditional black American society women negotiate a complex web of power and submission. Matriarchy is set against traditional paternalism. The black male is especially (and brutally) oppressed by mainstream white society, and the black female is in turn both oppressed and sought after as a source of comfort by black males. This creates a paradox and all sorts of contradictions. People respond to these contradictions as humans will; that is, without always being clear about understanding what is happening to them. That's for us literary scholars and critics and students who read these books like Sula. Morrison's females are both able and unable to escape what they are; that is, male rule and conventional black society. The consequences for these choices feed one another, and  sometimes it is like looking into a maelstrom; sometimes like looking into a pool of limpid water and seeing yourself for the first time. You will not get one answer or solution with Morrison. You will get through these women she portrays a rich and vivid story of humanity in general, and of black America in particular. You will explore through these women our weaknesses and our strengths, and of our fundamental relationship with ourselves and our mates.

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