Sula Questions and Answers
by Toni Morrison

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What are the similarities between Sula and Shadrack in the novel Sula by Toni Morrison?

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Toni Morrison’s Sula is set in the Bottom, a primarily black community situated in hills above the mostly white and wealthier community of Medallion. The description of the two communities helps promote the duality of good and evil, which Morrison eventually obscures and deconstructs.

Shadrack is a veteran of World War I and has significant difficulty readjusting to life post-war. His trauma forces him to spend two years in a hospital before he settles on the outskirts of the Bottom, constantly trying to create order in his life. His obsession with death leads to his inventing National Suicide Day, where he parades thorough the Bottom promoting suicide and murder.

Shadrack’s experiences in World War I directly lead to his being labeled an outsider. Similarly, Sula’s rejection of cultural norms through her promiscuity compel the community to treat her as an outsider upon her return to the Bottom.

The community others each of these characters, which changes the way the community lives....

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Sula and Shadrack share various comparisons in Toni Morrison’s novel Sula. The most stark is that both have endured trauma during their life that drove their dark decisions thereafter. For example, Shadrack fought in World War I, leaving him broken emotionally when he returned back to the Bottom. His response to those experiences was his celebatory National Suicide Day that he held annually. In a similar way Sula had to endure emotional pain as a child from the rejection of her mother. This unacceptance created her into a woman who was ruthless and self serving. These actions also showcase the lack of self love they both field in credit to their life experiences.

Another way that they mirror one another is that both decided to venture beyond their homes. Sula leaves the Bottom to go explore the United States. This was not typical for her time period or the culture of her hometown. Similarly, Shadrack fearlessly went off to fight in the war overseas. Both characters broke the barriers of expectations to remain and cultivate all of their life experiences only in the Bottom.

Attractive physicality is a described trait for them. Before going to World War I, Shadrack is seen as handsome. However, later he is recognized as grave in demeanor. Sula is seen to be a blossomed beauty when she returns to the Bottom. Their new appearances are noticed by those who knew them. In addition, their skin is a focal point to enhance points about them as characters. Shadrack’s dark skin is described as a black that shocks him. Sula has a rose birthmark over her eyebrow that only grows darker as she continues to age.