Evolution Of African American Culture In Sula

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Sula is a book that talks about the evolution of African American culture just at the cusp of the abolition of the slave trade. It documents their struggles along with the rich heritage and the humor that’s embedded in their life. All of this is done through the lives of two girls- Nel and Sula who are as different from each other as chalk and cheese while also being quite similar in the way that they see the world. The book is very descriptive which made the beginning a bit arduous for me. It is divided into two parts, first describes the girls’ childhoods and second shows them as adults. I preferred Part 1 over Part 2 but that is only because of my personal preference of action over description and dialogues over monologues.

I loved how the author conveyed Sula’s indecisiveness along with her strong love for herself. She is a woman who believes in not doing something just to please others. Unfortunately for her, this is a bit too ahead of her times and she is shunned by the entire town. What I appreciated about the character is that she remained steadfast in her belief and did what she thought best until her last breath. I was awed at how the author managed to incorporate this sort of character with her best friend who is more rigid and mild in her approach. We are never made to pick one girl over the other. It was wonderful to see the African American community development while also reading a background story of friendship and loss that seemed to tie everything together. It is a beautiful story of growing up in households where you feel like you don’t belong, of living in a society that places stringent rules on how you are supposed to behave and casts you out if you don’t follow its rules, of young girls realizing that life is not always about doing what feels good to you and also of discovering that you cannot please everybody. They learn to deal with men and women of differing temperaments, childhood trauma and dark secrets. What I absolutely loved was how the author managed to create a piece of work with no judgment in it. Women with multiple partners are just described as they are. Seeing as this was written in the 1970s, it is commendable that the author felt no need to direct her readers’ moral compasses. She lets us see all points of view and make our own decision.

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