Sula Questions and Answers
by Toni Morrison

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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 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...

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mlgriffin89 | Student

The neighborhood called "The Bottom" in Sula is located in Ohio. It is a poor, majority black neighborhood situated under a wealthy white neighborhood called Medallion. It was established when a slave owner gifted the land to one of his former slaves. The slave owner did not mean for the gift to be generous; instead, he gave it away as what he considered to be land not worth anything. He tricked his former slave into thinking the land was worth it because it was hilly, and he said that meant it was closer to heaven.

That deceit gives the neighborhood's name a deeper meaning than found on its surface. Most obviously, "The Bottom" is situated literally under the wealthy white neighborhood in its physical geography. The name also indicates the wealthy white people's distain for their poor black neighbors and their economic and social positions compared to their own. The origin story of the neighborhood also adds a layer of irony to its name, mocking the thought that it may be closer to heaven by designated it as in the opposite position.

zumba96 | Student

It is called the Bottom however those in the Bottom overlook the white folk within the area. Others have told the African community that the top of the valley is like the Bottom of heaven which leads them to be closer to God. While the Bottom is higher in terms of height, the Bottom deals with superstitious people and those who are not in great standing.