Sula: Character Analysis of Nel

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The novel Sula, is a work which contrasts the lives of its two main characters Nel and Sula. They appear, on the surface, to be the epidemy of binary opposites but this is in actuality their underlying bond. The differences in their personalities complement one another in a way that forges an almost unbreakable alliance. Sula is compulsive and uncontrollable while her counterpart, Nel, is sensible and principled. To prove Nel human by subscribing to the theory that a human is one who possess both good and bad traits, one must only look at how she interacts with Sula, here both negative and positive traits are evident.Nel's "good" traits obviously come to the forefront when looking at her character. One might say this is a result of how she was raised and that she was simply a product of her environment. Nel's parents married out of convenience rather than love and Nel was raised in a household of "oppressive neatness" (page 29). Nel's mother Helene played a large role in establishing her positive attitude and calm demeanor. "Under Helene's hand the girl became obedient and polite. Any enthusiasms that little Nel showed were calmed by the mother until she drove her daughter's imagination underground."(Page 18) Although this would seem lead to an extremely sad existence, it was exactly this kind of environment that lead to Nel's calm and reasonable disposition.Nel's "bad" traits are as well hidden as her "good traits are evident. If there were one action in particular that might blemish the otherwise flawless character of Nel it would be her selfish behavior. This behavior is seen when Nel attempts to recreate the relationship that she and Sula share with someone else, instead of maintaining her relationship with Sula. Now instead of Nel and Sula joined to make one person, Nel and Jude "together would make one Jude." (Page 83) Another of Nel's negative qualities was how dependent she was on what other thought of her. The only reason Nel ended her relationship with...
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