Sula Questions and Answers
by Toni Morrison

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What is the symbolism or significance of the robins in Sula?

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The robins can be seen as signifying a correlation between Sula and the irrepressible forces of nature.

Sula returns to Medallion in 1937, ten years after Nel’s wedding, and her presence in the town brings a new and invidious life to the town.

“Accompanied by a plague of robins, Sula came back to Medallion. The little yam-breasted birds were everywhere, exciting very small children away from their usual welcome into a vicious stoning.”

Where once there was a quiet distance between neighbors, between parents and their children and between wives and their husbands, Sula’s behavior inspires an almost violent closing of the guard.

The robins that arrive in town with Sula upon her return to Medallion are one of the numerous curious atmospheric elements in the novel. They are symbolically associated with Sula but are also part of a system of signs that function as a magical-realism motif, situating the action of the tale within a world defined by a specific relationship between man and the...

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tachelle | Student

The plague of robins announces the return of Sula.  She embodies an ill-spirited woman and prodigal daughter of the town Medallion.  Morrison uses the birds as a foreshadowing effect of evil to come, while upholding Sula as an unnatural force of nature.

 

zumba96 | Student

The robins allow Sula to be depicted as evil when in reality she has no say in what the robins do or when they come. The robins are viewed as a sign of evil and from there on since Sula is not liked by those at the bottom, others view her as evil. Such as when Shadrack tipped his hat at her and others believed that she was the devil. 

covingtons0910 | Student
The robins plays a significant role Toni Morrison's Sula because they represent a type of liberation or freedom, which Sula promotes throughout the novel by not conforming to the societal ideals.