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Motherhood In Sula Essay

1293 words - 6 pages

Besides being a novel about motherhood, Sula, written by Toni Morrison is also a novel about the struggles of race and social class. The book allows for an insight on the two main families in the novel, the Wrights and the Peaces. Both of these families have distinct maternal relationships, which are modified by the influences of the society. The theme of motherhood is exemplified through the exploration of the race and the many social classes in the novel.
In the early chapters of the novel, Morrison describes both the Wright and the Peace families. Within these chapters, Morrison stresses the influence of relationships built between mother and daughter. Each of these families cope ...view middle of the document...

Plum, who was a heroine addict was described as “wanting to crawl back into Eva’s womb”(71), Eva further explained that she did not have anymore room in her “womb” or life for Plum. This act is seen as both selfless and selfish; selfless in the way Eva cared so much about her son that she did not want to see him digress any longer, and it is seen as selfish in the way Eva went about killing him, and ultimately ending her own suffering. Through a quote in the novel, “When he wondered, will those people ever be anything but animals, fit for nothing but substitutes for mules, only mules didn’t kill each other the way niggers did” (63), the reader is informed of how the white community viewed the black community. Because of the influences of race and class, Eva could not completely focus on the mothering process, thus altering the motherly relationship Eva was able to form with her daughter Hannah; when Hannah asked Eva, “Mamma, did you ever love us?”(67), Eva simply replies with instances from her children’s childhood in which she proved her love. Even through poverty and race tensions, Eva’s was able to form relationships with her children and give them a sense of motherly love.
The Wrights, who are introduced as a financially stable family “a lovely house with a brick porch and real lace curtains at the window” (170), prove to have similar complications to the Peaces when it comes to motherhood. Helene Wright, a daughter of a Creole whore, escaped from the hardships of her home town by marrying a man who brought her to live a semi, middle-class life in Medallion, Ohio, the setting of the book. Helene’s attempts to stray away from her roots resulted in her failure to connect with her daughter, Nel. When Helene was forced to return to New Orleans, after her grandmother’s death, Nel was confronted with her mother‘s true identity. During the train ride to New Orleans, both the reader and Nel experienced the hardships of being an African American. Nel realized her mother, who appeared to live as a revered individual, could be easily tainted by racism. “She felt both pleased and ashamed to sense that these men, unlike her father, who worshiped his graceful, beautiful wife, were bubbling with a hatred for her mother that had not been there in the beginning but had been born with the dazzling smile.” (22) , this moment of racial disgust, and class differences on the train formed the relationship Nel and her mother would have throughout the book.
Once Nel learned of her mother‘s roots, she and the reader were able to synthesize how the mother-daughter relationship between Nel and Helene would unfold. Nel...

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