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Yin and Yang in "Sula" Essay

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"Sula"

Yin and Yang is an ancient Chinese philosophy that says everything in the world works through opposing energies and that everything has its counter part which balances the world out. This idea of counter parts also carries into literature as shown in the book Sula by Toni Morrison. According to social conventions the character Nel is the yang (positive character/good) and Sula is the yin (negative character/evil). This is the way both characters are viewed on sole terms of how they conform to society. Nel is shown to be a good character because she plays a socially expectable role as a women and mother, while Sula conforms to no social stereotypes and let's almost nothing hold her back, thus she is viewed as evil.

The social conventions that are set up in this book play out in a small black community in Ohio called "the bottom." The community itself formed when a white slave owner tricked his naive black slave into accepting hilly mountainous land that would be hard to farm and very troublesome instead of the actual bottom (valley) land that he was promised. The slave was told "when God looks down, it's the bottom. That's why we call it so. It's the bottom of heaven-best land there is"(4), and on this lie a community was formed. The community struggles geographically to survive, having to combat bad weather and encroaching whites who want to convert most of the town into a golf course. The town unites social as they band together against Sula and her actions.

Nel follows all the stereotypes of what a woman should be. She is a simple God-fearing, church going women who marries young and is very domesticated, tending to the house and her children. Nel chooses to settle into the conventional female ...


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... Little, Nel is riddled with guilt. She clings even closer to social conventions in an attempt to reestablish herself as a good person. This guilt most likely comes from her strict authority respecting upbringing and her fear of being judged and seen as wrong. Nel is tormented by the young boys death and her mind is restless about it for years until she finally accepts some of the blame for the accident and stops blaming it all on Sula. Sula on the other hand, has no guilt over the accident. She sees what happened as a turn in life and does not feel like she is the cause of Chicken Little's death. She mourns his death and then moves on.

Sula has a feminist spirit and refuses to melt into the typical mold of a women. Because of this she is hated by the town. The towns hatered against her actually ends up drawing them together in a way to face on evil, Sula



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