What is the symbolism of the gray ball?

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In the novel Sula, Toni Morrison traces the long time friendship of two black women, Sula and Nel. The gray ball appears after Nel catches Sula in bed with her husband, Jude. For Nel, this is devastating as she loses both her husband and her best friend, and she cannot seem to deal with the pain brought on by what she perceives as betrayal even though Sula views the situation in a different light.

After she catches them together and they leave, Nel goes into the bathroom and she sees the ball in the air: "Quiet, gray, dirty. A ball of muddy strings, but without...

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