How Does Morrison Show Strength In Sula

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The Custard Wrights
The novel Sula by Toni Morrison depicts the unified and conflicting lives of two childhood best friends, Sula and Nel. In their childhood, the two girls act as two halves to a nearly single entity: Sula being the more impulsive and wild of the two, and Nel acting as the mature and proper figure. Their friendship, however, is destroyed after Sula sleeps with Nel’s husband, making apparent the qualities of the women which had been concealed by their friendship. In Nel, a vulnerability, one that Nel saw in her mother Helene, began to show: a vulnerability to yield. Although Nel appears to show strength and integrity throughout Sula, she, like her mother, is actually weak and yielding; and only through the death of Sula is
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This strength however, is not true strength that Nel has, but it is rather an apparent strength that comes out of Nel’s outward appearance and her duty to her loved ones. Even in Nel and Sula’s childhood, Morrison depicts the duo as, “unshaped, formless things, Nel seemed stronger and more consistent than Sula, who could hardly be counted on to sustain any emotion for more than three minutes” (53). Morrison shows that of the two girls, Nel is the one who brings strength to the unity that is their friendship. However, Nel and Sula are also ‘unshaped’ and ‘formless’ much like the ‘custard’ skin of Helene and the ‘custard’ skin seen on Nel after Sula and Jude’s affair. Thus, even though it appears that Nel has strength of her own, the use of the word ‘seemed’ by Morrison shows that Nel may in fact be a weak person. Another instance in which Nel shows strength is after Jude leaves her. Nel finds herself all alone, and “because Jude’s leaving was so complete, the full responsibility of the household was Nel’s…she was home when the children got out of school” (Morrison 138-139). Although Nel shows strength in holding together and providing for her family all alone after Jude’s loss, this strength is not strength that Nel has for herself. Rather, it is a type of Motherly strength that comes from the duty she feels to raise her children. Although Nel appears to…show more content…
Nel needed Sula to help fill the hole that was filled by the ‘soft ball of fur’ and it is only when Nel realizes this that the ball of fear and anxiety breaks and dissolves into the wind. This realization shows that Nel was never the strength in her and Sula’s relationship, but it was rather the passion and heart within Sula that brought strength to the relationship they once had. Thus, Nel is only rid of her ‘custard’ skin and gray ball when she is finally able find the strength in herself to confront and solve her
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