Shadrack In Toni Morrison's Sula

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“And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellers, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” (Daniel 3:23-24 King James Version). The Biblical Shadrach and his friends Meshach and Abednego save themselves from the flames of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace by their stalwart faith in God and their refusal to conform to societal expectations. In the novel Sula by Toni Morrison, Shadrack, the town recluse, provides great insight towards social expectations and victims of posttraumatic stress disorder. By means of Shadrack’s characterization of Sula’s birthmark as…show more content…
In the beginning of the novel, the narrator says, “Shadrack began a struggle… to order and focus experience. It had to do with making a place for fear as a way of controlling it… In this manner he instituted National Suicide Day,” (Morrison 14). Through the narrator’s use of “struggle” and “controlling,” it reveals Shadrack’s internal battle to make order out of his emotions and fear. The use of “making a place for” also highlights how he is grappling with such a huge change in his life. Trying to make “a place for fear,” Shadrack tries to find a way to organize and compartmentalize his feelings so that he can make sense of them as a “way of controlling it.” It is in that same way that Shadrack also tries to give order to Sula’s ambiguous birthmark. While looking back on the first time he meets Sula, Shadrack thinks, “She had a tadpole over her eye (that was how he knew she was a friend—she had the mark of the fish he loved),” (Morrison 156). With the “mark of the fish he loved,” Shadrack attempts to order Sula, a girl who does not fit into society’s expectations or his own expectations, by saying that she “had a tadpole over her eye.” In calling her very ambiguous birthmark, a tadpole, and making order out of disorder, Shadrack is able to compartmentalize his fear and his experiences into events or animals that he can relate to or make sense of like the “mark of the fish he loved” and having “a place for fear.” Exposing his need to create order out of disorder, Shadrack names Sula’s extremely ambiguous birthmark a
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