Sula Questions and Answers
by Toni Morrison

Start Your Free Trial

What is symbolic about fire and water in Sula?

The symbols of fire and water in Sula primarily evoke death and destruction. In many cases, characters meet their tragic fates through the means of fire and water.

Expert Answers info

JJ Botta, J.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Professor, Professional Writer

bookB.A. from Seton Hall University

bookM.A. from California State University

bookJ.D. from New York Law School


calendarEducator since 2020

write233 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Toni Morrison's 1973 novel Sula employs the elements of fire and water to symbolize death, destruction, and loss. The novel is a tragedy, and death recurs throughout, although both fire and water at times also represent rebirth.

Since ancient times, both fire and water have symbolized life and fertility in many world cultures and those symbols continue to permeate modern literature. Fire represents purification, warmth, light, love, strength, and freedom. Water represents healing, cleansing, devotion, and regeneration. However, fire can also burn and take life, water can also cause death, and both can destroy happiness.

Morrison's Sula is a story of good and evil set in The Bottom, a fictional black community in Ohio. The community is situated on a hill originally gifted to a former slave who had been told it was good land because it is high and therefore closer to heaven. What is unforeseen is the resultant vibrant community that springs up from the gift. As a consequence, wealthy whites...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1,049 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write4,625 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,320 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

angelacress eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write74 answers

starTop subject is Literature


check Approved by eNotes Editorial