What are the principles Sula lives by?

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The conventional answer is that Sula is outgoing, adventurous, and pleasure seeking. These traits contrast those of her friend Nel, who is committed to staying in Bottom and caring for her husband. While it's easy to see Sula as "wild," it is more accurate to say that Nel and Sula...

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The conventional answer is that Sula is outgoing, adventurous, and pleasure seeking. These traits contrast those of her friend Nel, who is committed to staying in Bottom and caring for her husband. While it's easy to see Sula as "wild," it is more accurate to say that Nel and Sula represent two separate kinds of intelligences. If Nel is practical and rational, Sula is unafraid to follow her feelings wherever they might lead. This kind of emotional adventurousness causes her to see the world in a fundamentally different way than Nel. It encourages her to leave Bottom and go to school. Also, when she returns to Bottom, it leads her to have many affairs. She even has one with Nel's husband.

Morrison is not interested, however, in setting up Nel and Sula as a good girl-bad girl dyad. It's more the case that Nel and Sula are necessary to each other, as if they were two halves of the same person. The spirit of female desire that inhabits Sula is a counterbalance to Nel's passivity. And even though Nel self-righteously refuses to see or talk to Sula for years, at the end of Sula's life Nel realizes that she is losing a part of herself. Sula's death, awaited in the Bottom community like the lifting of a curse, comes with a terrible ice storm. The natural event suggests that Sula might not have been so "bad" after all.

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