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Between the Self and the Community: The Lost Identity in Morrison's Sula

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Aristotle once said, "I count him braver who overcomes his desires … for the hardest victory is over self." Unfortunately, most people don't understand the sheer meaning of Aristotle's quote because they live as servants of their community where one's identity losses its shape. Such end is the inevitable result of living under the constraints of binaries. Toni Morrison's Sula is packed with numerous binaries that define the nature and acts of the novel's characters such as the Self/Community binary. The identities of Sula, Nel and Eva are sketched out by the diverse choices they make in relation to this binary: controlling the privileged side, being controlled by the unprivileged side or sticking in between.
To begin with, Sula enjoys the superiority of her pivotal self. Galehouse in her article, "New World Women" states that "despite any real or perceived limitations imposed by her family, her community, or the era in which she is depicted, Sula does not put any limits upon herself"(341). Her disinterest in what the Bottom community glorifies forms her narcissistic identity and creates her "I want to make myself" motto (Morrison 121). For Sula, all the worn-out traditions promoted by her community worth nothing more than her own "dirt" for at least the latter is her own production. Sula`s identity as a new world woman is highlighted by her "daring, disruptive, imaginative,… out-of-the-house, uncontained and uncontainable" personality, as Morrison puts it (qut in. Galehouse 339). Moreover, throughout the novel, Sula`s self controls every aspect of her social and intellectual life resulting in full appreciation of her angelic, as well as, demonic actions. On the one hand, when cutting her finger in an attempt to...


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...ng? Finally, I idealize Eva, but does she idealize her own self? Questions remain unanswered just as the Self/Community binary remains unchanged even in our legendary 21st century.
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Works Cited
Bergenholtz, Rita. "Toni Morrison's Sula: A satire on Binary Thinking." African American Review 30.1 (1996): 89-99. Academic Search Premier. Web. 22 March 2012.
Galehouse, Maggie. "New World Woman: Toni Morrison's Sula." Papers on Language and Literature 35.4 (1999): 339-355. Jstore. Web. 21 March 2012.
Morrison, Toni. Sula. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. Print.
Pessoni, Michele. "She was laughing at their God: Discovering the goddess within Sula." African American Review 29.3 (1995): 439-442. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 March 2012.



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