Essay on Racism and Sexism in Toni Morrison's Sula

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Racism and Sexism in Toni Morrison's Sula

Racism and sexism are both themes that are developed throughout the novel Sula, by Toni Morrison. The book is based around the black community of "The Bottom," which itself was established on a racist act. Later the characters in this town become racist as well. This internalized racism that develops may well be a survival tactic developed by the people over years, which still exists even at the end of the novel. The two main characters of this novel are Nel Wright and Sula Peace. They are both female characters and are often disadvantaged due to their gender. Nel and Sula are depicted as complete opposites that come together to almost complete one another through their once balanced
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The town unites social as they band together against Sula and her radical actions /"evil ways."

Nel follows all the stereotypes of what a woman should be. She is a simple God-fearing, church going women who marries young and is very domesticated, tending to the house and her children. Nel chooses to settle into the conventional female role of wife and mother while all throughout her life she has been careful to stick close to the "right" side of conformity. She was raised in a stable, rigid home by a family that has always been careful to keep up a socially respectable persona and an immaculately clean house. Sula on the other hand is the complete opposite. Sula gives social reforms no mind and is in a sense a wild woman that can not be tamed. She defies social conventions by never marrying, leaving her hometown to get an education and having multiple affairs with different men. The home she grew up in was in a constant state of disarray supplied by a steady stream of borders, three informally adopted boys all of whom were renamed Dewey and a line of men waiting for her openly promiscuous mother.

One example of racism in this book is Helene, Nel's mother, who is overly concerned about her daughter's physical characteristics. Helene sees being fair skinned as an advantage but also has the mentality that "had she been any lighter-skinned she would have needed either her
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