Sula Critical Theory Essay - Black Feminist Theory

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Looking through a Black Feminist Critical Lens, Toni Morrison’s characters in Sula resemble Mary Helen Washington’s definitions of African American female characters. Specifically, Sula, Nel, and Eva; Sula is a Liberated Woman, Nel is a Emergent Woman, and Eva as a Suspended woman. Sula is Morrison’s main character and is a perfect example of a Liberated woman. According to Lois Tyson's definition of a Liberated Woman, Sula has “discovered her abilities, knows what she needs, and goes about getting it.” Along with all these activities, comes pride and independence. It began when Sula was younger as she had Nel, her best friend, by her side. “In the safe harbor of each other's company they could afford to abandon the ways of other people …show more content…

Nel’s character fits into an Emergent Woman as she “[comes] to an awareness of her own psychological and political oppresion... usually through a harsh experience of initiation that makes her ready for change.” On Nel’s trip to meet her grandmother, Nel witnesses her mother’s “custard” being revealed. From then on Nel “resolved to be on guard- always. She wanted to make certain that no man ever looked at her that way. That no midnight eyes of marbled flesh would accost her and turn her into jelly” (22). Ashamed of the “jelly” or the weak substance “custard” that Morrison also associates with Helene, Nel makes certain that no man shall look at her, and make her into anything weak. In this secne, she becomes aware of her mother’s oppression and makes the decision to never allow it in her life. At the end of their trip, Nel lays in bed thinking about the possibility of ending up like her mother. To establish her independence separate from her mother, Nel states, ”I’m me. I’m not their daughter. I’m not Nel. I’m me. Me,” (28). As an Emergent woman, she demonstrates her ability to make her own choices and establish her own

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