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 darkest of moments.
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.”
“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.”
“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?