Sula by Toni Morrison

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Q. Discuss how many characters describe Sula’s birthmark which looks different to several people in The Bottom. Does the birthmark reflect their fears or dreams? How so?

Lots of people see Sula in different lights. Their relationship with her determines what they may see above her brow. Most of her relatives and her best friend Nel see a rose. Shadrack, the town crazy, sees a tadpole. Jude first sees a copperhead snake. How her birthmark ‘shifts’ depends on the mood and notions of the person viewing it. It has nothing at all to do with the content of Sula’s character, which so many folks believe to be evil. Sula’s birthmark is mostly seen as a long-stemmed rose. The rose is commonly a symbol for love and is revered for its beauty but it stands as a symbol with many meanings. First, it is an early, sacred symbol, an ancient flower that may have derived thousands and thousands of years ago and carried about because of its beauty. It has been adopted by the Catholic Church as the flower of the Virgin Mary. In ancient days, if a rose hung from the ceiling in a meeting room, the information discussed in the meeting was to be kept secret. In Rome, the rose was a symbol of Venus, the goddess of love and sexuality. The rose can be sensual. But in this case, the rose above Sula’s eye is a symbol of her purity and strength in her self, her unwavering character, which can be seen as beautiful. The rose breaks away from the otherwise plainness of Sula’s face. This idea can be seen as contradictory because the citizens of The Bottom see Sula as evil. They don’t believe that she herself is malevolently evil, but that she is an evil creation of God, meant to give the people of The Bottom more meaning and pride in their lives. “Once the source of their personal misfortune was identified, they had leave to protect and love one another. They began to cherish their husbands and wives, protect their children, repair their homes and in general band together...
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