Sula by Toni Morrison: Symbolism

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In the novel Sula by Toni Morrison symbols are used in different ways and different contexts to suggest and represent something about the characters and theme. Throughout the novel the reader is introduced to different characters that all share the same neighborhood (the bottom). Throughout the novel Toni Morrison uses different symbols to suggest ideas to the reader. Toni Morrison exemplifies symbols in her novel Sula in many different ways. Throughout the novel, the reader is constantly reminded of Sula’s birth mark not only does it vary in size but with different people the birthmark changes. Some would see it as a snake while others saw it as a rose. The different inferences about the birthmark correlate with the feelings people have toward Sula. “Sula’s status as outsider manifests itself symbolically in a mysterious birthmark that runs from the middle of the lid towards the eyebrow of her right eye. It marks her as evil to most bottomites,who blame her for unpleasant occurrences”(Samuels 33) Those describing the mark as a rose may find her sexual and beautiful, while those who view it as a snake or other evil portent (like Teapot's Mamma) find her dangerous or mean. The symbol of the birthmark is the symbol of the perception we have of a person, place or community based on outward appearances. Often, these perceptions are not what they seem, although our willingness to follow these misconceptions can lead to our own struggles and demises, such as the real "National Suicide Day" in the novel. Each character in this story was trying to survive. Sometimes it drove them crazy (Shadrack), led to drugs (Plum) or even adultery (Jude), but these people were each trying to live, to find a way to be free, and to shake the perception that they were branded as less than equal with their own invisible birthmarks. Fire appears throughout the novel and results in the deaths of Hannah and Plum. There are many possible meanings of fire, one of which is the idea that it is...
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