The Significance of the Character Shadrack in the Novel Sula by Toni Morrison

Topics: Death, Suicide, Fear Pages: 4 (1558 words) Published: June 28, 2009
The Significance of The Character Shadrack in The Novel Sula By Toni Morrison
The book Sula by Toni Morrison is regarded as one of Morrison’s best work because of the content and structure of the book. Shadrack is an important character in the novel although his appearance in the plot is fairly brief. His significance in the novel stems from the fact that he represents one of the recurring themes of the novel, which is the need for order. Since the need to order and focus experience is an important theme, the character Shadrack illustrates the terror of chaos through his self-proclaimed day “National Suicide Day” in his small town, which portrays the importance of fear, chaos, and death in the book Sula by Toni Morrison.

Shadrack, one of the main characters introduced in the prologue, is a veteran of World War I. He is so traumatized by what he has seen in the war that when he wakes up in a military hospital, he is out of his mind with fear. Even frightened by his own hands, he tries to hide them. He is bound in a straight jacket to try and calm his anxiety. Despite his pitiful condition, Shadrack is soon discharged from the hospital because of overcrowding. Back in the real world, every minor decision to Shadrack is a major event for him. One day he gets a terrible headache and sits on a curb in a small town. He is thrown in jail for being drunk and vagrant, even though he is neither. While in jail, he sees his own reflection in the toilet bowl of the cell. The image calms him; he sleeps and is no longer afraid of his hands. The sheriff figures out that Shadrack is originally from The Bottom and has him taken there. Back in his own hometown, Shadrack becomes a colorful, but harmless, local character. Because of his shell shock, he is obsessed with the suddenness of death and dying. One day he announces the institution of a new holiday: “National Suicide Day” (Sula 14). He proclaims that on January 3 of every year after 1920, people who no longer want to...
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