Student Question

What does the line "Talking to Sula had always been a conversation with herself" from Sula imply?

Expert Answers

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In Toni Morrison's Sula, the quotation “Talking to Sula had always been a conversation with herself” comes from the chapter entitled “1937.” The perspective here is Nel's. Sula has come home to Bottom after many years, and Nel thinks that “It was like getting the use of an eye back.” Sula and Nel are such close friends that they are almost the same person in Nel's eyes. Talking to Sula is so familiar, so comfortable, that the two women quickly resume their old intimacy. Nel is relieved that she can once again be her true self in the presence of her friend, and life seems better all around.

However, the quotation also provides some irony because later in the chapter, Nel finds Sula and Jude (Nel's husband) in an inmate position. The woman who has seemed like another self to Nel has betrayed her. Jude leaves his wife, and Nel is devastated by the whole incident.

As you prepare your answer to this question, you might include further context to describe why Nel and Sula have grown so close and more details about how Sula's betrayal affects Nel.

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