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by Toni Morrison

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What is Shadrack’s motivation for creating National Suicide Day in Sula by Toni Morrison?

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The main force behind Shadrack's National Suicide Day is his desire for order. When he gets out of the hospital, he is no longer sure what to expect from the world (or from death). After being shell-shocked during the war, he struggles with the idea that death can come at any time and for any reason—life is fragile, and it’s impossible to anticipate when or how it will come to an end. Creating National Suicide Day (which falls on January 3rd) is Shadrack’s way of trying to exert some control over death—he’s trying to impose limitations on when people can die. Ideally, people would only have to worry about death once a year. After a while, National Suicide Day is adopted by Shadrack’s community.

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