Revisiting Sula

I first read Toni Morrison’s Sula when I was 17.  Although I was old enough to appreciate its symbolism and complexity, I could not identify with the themes of judgement, love, loss and survival.  I was 17.  I had not lived, lost and learned that life could hold the dark moments.

FullSizeRender (2)Several quotes from Sula remained with me in the 15 years since I’ve read the novel.  Fifteen years have passed and I, an older and (hopefully) wiser woman, now understand the meaning of these quotes more deeply.  I understand that Sula is inherently about life, love, choice and perspective.  As I approach my 32nd birthday, I realize that this novel deserves revisiting, in order to better appreciate these themes.

Here are a few passages that, for me, have stood the test of time:


On a dream deferred
“Had she paints, or clay, or knew the discipline of the dance, or strings, had she anything to engage her tremendous curiosity and her gift for metaphor, she might have exchanged the restlessness and preoccupation with whim for an activity that provided her with all she yearned for. And like an artist with no art form, she became dangerous.”

On letting go:
“It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you.”

On choice:
“When you gone to get married? You need to have some babies. It’ll settle you.’
‘I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself.”

On Sadness:
“the loss pressed down on her chest and came up into her throat. it was a fine cry — loud and long — but it had no bottom and no top, just circles and circles of sorrow.”

On love and sacrifice:
“‘Mamma, did you ever love us?’…’What you talkin’ ’bout did I love you girl I stayed alive for you'”

If you’ve read Sula, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on the novel.  Are there any novels you read at a young age that now have deeper meaning to you as an adult?


Filed under Afro-American Lit, For Lovers, Readers and Me

6 responses to “Revisiting Sula

  1. I read Sula when I was 19 for my Reading Women Writers class, I’m 25, now so it may be time to revisit it soon or in a few years. I remember enjoying it, but it didn’t impact me as profoundly as The Bluest Eye Did. Few other novels have.

    • Agreed! Sula was always my least favorite Toni Morrison (pre-2002 Toni Morrison) text but I am slowly growing to appreciate it as much as Jazz. Beloved is perhaps my favorite novel of all her work and Bluest Eye is the only book I have ever read more than twice.

  2. Maybe I should read Sula again in a couple of years. I don’t remember it having a profound effect on me when I read it last year. But I do appreciate and understand how the themes of love and loss in the book have deeper meaning for you…. I just didn’t find the storyline original enough to move me. But maybe some years down the line I’d appreciate the story in a different way lol! I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelo and A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry had profound effects on me when I read them when I was 14.

    • It’s a work that tends to get lost among her other power house novels but the themes and concepts are profound. …although the story line may not hold as much weight.

      What about Caged Bird and Raisin in the Sun struck you most profoundly a at 14?

  3. Reading this tells me I have to read more of Morrison. I have read only one which is God Help the Child

  4. I recommend starting with Sula, Tar Baby and Bluest Eye

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