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Relationship Between Nel And Sula in Toni Morrison's Sula Essay

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Often in nature organisms rely on one another to survive. Relationships in which each partner gives equally are called symbiotic. The two partners live harmoniously along side one another depending on each other but still have the ability to stand and act alone should they need to. However, these perfect relationships do not always exist. Sometimes, certain organisms take more than they give and as a result the other organism suffers. Those that do this are called parasites. In Toni Morrison's novel, Sula, Sula Peace and Nel Wright demonstrate a symbiotic relationship gone awry. The two start off learning from each other and giving to each other equally, but as they spend more time together Sula seems to thrive and Nel seems to wither away. The relationship does not continue in this manner for Nel realizes that in order to survive she must remove Sula from her life and reverse the negative effect of their relationship. Using the relationship that she develops between Nel and Sula, Morrison implies that codependence can be compromising to oneself, suggesting that if one cannot stand on their own the result will be fatal.

The relationship between Nel and Sula begins during their adolescent years. Though they are complete opposites, they seem to work well with each other, depending on one another for comfort and support. The two spend almost all of their time together, learning from one another and growing as a result. They take solace in the presence of one another, finding comfort in what the other finds bothersome and using the lifestyle of the one another to compensate for their shortcomings. When Sula first visits Nel's home, "Nel, who regarded the oppressive neatness of her home with dread, felt comf...


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...ly, but surly, die.

There are only two possible outcomes yielded by a parasitic relationship: the death of the host or the death of the parasite. In the case of Sula and Nel the latter is what results. Realizing that Sula was doing nothing but taking, Nel decides to end their relationship. Without it, Sula is left feeble and on the brink of death. In the absence of her host she has nothing to depend on for she has never learned to live and stand on her own. Even after Sula draws her last breath her thoughts are still with Nel. In the case of Sula, Morrison uses death as an extreme consequence of dependency. When looking at the characteristic differences between the two she seems to suggest that one must be able to stand alone before they can support anyone else.






Works Cited

Morrison, Toni. Sula. 1973. New York: Vintage International, 2004.


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