In Sula, how was the neighborhood established? How is the name of the area "The Bottom" symbolic?

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In Toni Morrison's Sula , the neighborhood, "The Bottom," represents racialized hierarchy in a racist, capitalist system. The black residents of the town live in the least desired area of the town. While the Bottom is technically not the lowest geographic point of the town, it is called such...

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In Toni Morrison's Sula, the neighborhood, "The Bottom," represents racialized hierarchy in a racist, capitalist system. The black residents of the town live in the least desired area of the town. While the Bottom is technically not the lowest geographic point of the town, it is called such in the novel for two reasons. The Bottom symbolizes where black folks are designated in the socioeconomic racial caste system, and additionally, the Bottom is supposed to represent the bottom of heaven, according to the white residents. This specific reference speaks to the ways in which white people have used Christianity to keep black folks oppressed and at the bottom of the oppressive racialized hierarchy. Slave masters often used Christianity as a weapon against enslaved black folks.

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In Toni Morrison's Sula, the neighborhood known as "The Bottom" is ironically the hilly land in the area of town.  The white residents claimed the more hospitable valley surrounding The Bottom.  They tell the black residents that The Bottom is closer to the sky and therefore closer to God and Heaven.  The name of the town is supposed to be symbolic of the bottom of Heaven; however, the town is really more like the bottom of the socioeconomic hierarchy as most people in the area are poor.  So the name of the town suggests ironic twists within the context of the novel.

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