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

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

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.