Life As Depicted In Toni Morrison's Sula

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Living in the Bottom
Toni Morrison

s second novel
Sula
(1973) follows the lives of two African
America
n childhood friends
-
Sula Peace and Nel Wright.
They are grow ing up in a place called the Bottom, which is a hilly part of the town of Medallion where the African
American community lives. Despite being situated up in the hills, it is called the Bottom and it started to be called this way as a

nigger joke . . . The kind white folks tell . . . ”
(Morrison 4). A white farmer once promised freedom and a piece of land to his slave; nevertheless, the farmer was not willing to give fertile land to the slave, th erefore, he tricked the slave into thinking that the richest and most fertile land lies in the hills.
The slave believed
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From their experience, African American women learned to be self
-
reliant, which was a character trait that stood in opposition to the ideal of femininity of the time. As a consequence, African American women began to “be characterized as tough, domineer ing, and strong” (hooks 83).
Nevertheless, the racist practices changed the view of African American women who began to be seen as “masculinized sub
-
human creatures” by the American mainstream society (hooks 71).
Barbara Christian asserts that “in both A nglo - and Afro
-
American literature
[African American women] have been assigned stereotype roles” (
Black Feminist
Criticism
2). One of the most prominent stereotypical images of African American women became the “mammy figure” who “is in direct contrast to the ideal white woman
[. . . ] and her identity derived mainly from a nurturing service” (Christian 2). Another images were developed, which portrayed African American mothers as controlling and
“bad,” such as “the Black matriarch” or “the welfare mother,” who does not work, is a single parent and who “passes her bad values to her offspring” (Collins 77).
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