True Black Motherhood
A black woman writer, Toni Morrison, represents the affirmative meaning of black motherhood in her novel Sula (1973). She intends to reevaluate the positive experience of the black mothers who had no choice but to strategically accept the value of self-sacrifice for the survival of the black community and their children under the late twentieth century’s oppressive conventions. Nevertheless, there have been long controversies whether the Eva’s burning her own son or Helene’s manipulating her own daughter could be estimated as an authentic motherhood in a contemporary sense. Some critics claim that several scenes such as Eva’s self-mutilation of her leg to receive insurance benefits to support her children or Hannah’s whorish sexual relationships with any man in the Bottom render traditional maternal love distorted and destructive. However, what we had believed as the most common and stereotypical black female figure of fat, religious, nurturing, loving and above all enduring did not really exist in the black community but merely in the ideology accorded to the white middle-class women. Thus, how violent and raunchy the motherly images could be, we should not forget Toni Morrison’s representation of black motherhood in Sula centers on the contexts by which black women’s mothering experience is affected; for they are not only under the circumstances of their own survivals within the white and male-dominated society, but also under the concerns for their children’s survival in the late twentieth century of America. In this regard, I will defend the motherhood of Eva, Hannah and Helene by describing its indispensable incompleteness in delivering nurturing due to the contradictory context in the black community, illuminating their naturally innate motherhood as well. And then I will focus on the mothers’ influences from which Nel and Sula, the daughters, could benefited, which is related with the process from the self-negation to the affirmation...
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