Morrison's View on Gender in the Black Community Between 1919 and 1965

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In the novel “Sula”, Toni Morrison presents a very different view on gender in the black community between 1919 and 1965. Written in 1973 after the Civil Rights movement and during the feminist movement, Morison breaks down the traditional gender barriers from as early as 1919, proving that black females were “women” much sooner than their white “lady” counterparts. Morrison depicts matriarchal homes where the women are the dominant figures who even go as far as to emasculate their male opposites. All the women are presented as being independent due to being either abandoned by their husbands or refusing to conform to the convention of marriage. The relationship between Nel and Sula goes far beyond the bounds of a normal relationship. They…show more content…
She also emasculates her own son, calling him Plum Baby rather than his birth name. The sheer strength of Eva is evident when she chooses to murder her own son rather than allow him to suffer any longer. This idea of emasculating men is also apparent when Sula and Nel come across the Irish boys. Sula’s strength is evident when she cuts off the tip of her finger and she threatens them with far worse than cutting off their fingers. “If I can do that to myself, what you suppose I’ll do to you?”(Morrison 55), she asks as she alludes to castrating the boys. “The images attached to marriage in Sula are far from complimentary, with this social institution literally signalling the death of female imagination and individuality” (Carmean 37-38). For men, marriage becomes a confirmation of their manhood in a society where they are constantly oppressed and made to feel inferior to both their male and female white counterparts. Jude sees marriage as an opportunity to have “some posture of adulthood recognised” (Morrison 82). Morrison attempts to break down the traditional gender roles and stereotypes. Sexually, Sula is more like a man than a woman. She wants to make herself and not define or be defined by others. “The sexual act for Sula becomes an act of self-exploration and independence” (Carmean 40) Sula is able to provide for herself from some unspecified source and is not

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