Suggested Essay Topics
Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 724
1. Part One stimulates the reader to continue the book by leaving the reader with some unresolved issues. What are three of the unresolved questions at the end of the chapter? Describe each.
2. Change is a major theme in this chapter. Cite and describe at least four instances of change in the chapter.
Chapter 1: 1919
1. A common saying is that if one is silent, that person assents. Do you see any examples of assenting silence in this chapter?
2. Describe Shadrack’s relationships with others in the community on days other than National Suicide Day.
Chapter 2: 1920
1. When Nel said that her grandmother’s skin was soft, Helene made a comment. What was the comment? What do you think Helene meant by the comment? Can you think of instances in which this might be a good analogy?
2. Compare and contrast the homes and families of Sula and Nel.
Chapter 3: 1921
1. Describe as completely as possible the house built over a five-year period by an owner whose specifications continued to change. Now, add your description of some other unusual features the house might have had.
2. Change is a frequent feature of this chapter. Which characters seem to be dynamic, or changing, characters? Are there characters in this chapter who are static, or nonchanging? Explain your answer.
Chapter 4: 1922
1. Morrison writes that Nel and Sula stood away from the grave after the service.
…They held hands and knew that only the coffin would lie in the earth; the bubbly laughter and the press of fingers in the palm would stay aboveground forever.
What do you think she meant by this passage? Explain your answer fully.
2. Morrison mentions the most dreadful pain that there is. What does she say that this pain is? Explain what she means.
Chapter 5: 1923
1. Love is an important theme in Sula. Discuss the words about love or lack of love evident at this point between Eva and her daughter Hannah, between Sula and her mother Hannah, and between Eva and Plum.
2. Discuss the reactions of Sula and Eva when they see Hannah on fire. Is there a difference? Do one’s actions always reflect one’s feelings? Explain.
Chapter 6: 1927
1. What were the reasons that Jude asked Nel to marry him? Did any of the reasons have to do with love? Explain.
2. Ajax at the Time and a Half Pool Hall said that with women, "'All they want, man, is they own misery. Ax em to die for you and they yours for life.'" Explain what he meant by this statement. Do you think it is a statement true of all women? Why?
Chapter 7: 1937
1. Discuss the symbolism in the mark above Sula’s eye.
2. Nel and Sula had different views as to what Hell is. Give their two definitions. Explain what you think each woman meant. Try to specify examples.
Chapter 8: 1939
1. Explain the following statements that Sula makes:
"…I didn’t even know his name. And if I didn’t know his name, then there is nothing I did know and I have known nothing ever at all since the one thing I wanted was to know his name so how could he help but leave me since he was making love to a woman who didn’t even know his name."
2. What did Sula mean when she said that she had sung all the songs that there are and that there are no new songs?
Chapter 9: 1940
1. Nel and Sula discuss work. They have different opinions on work. First, explain their views of work. Then, compare and contrast these views. Is one of these women more correct than the other? Why?
2. What is loneliness? Compare and contrast Nel’s loneliness and Sula’s loneliness. Is one type of loneliness to be preferred? Which one? Why?
Chapter 10: 1941
1. Relate Sula and her last name to the actions of the people in the Bottom after she "pushes" Teapot, commits Eva, and leaves with Jude. Discuss the actions of the people of the Bottom after Sula dies and is no longer in the community.
2. Who was the first person to die in the collapse of the tunnel? What had this person done to Sula? Does her death seem like retribution?
Chapter 11: 1965
1. Discuss how the collapse of the tunnel had affected Shadrack.
2. The song "Shall We Gather at the River" was sung as a question. What were the questions suggested by the song?