October 28, 2014
Throughout Toni Morrison’s Sula, racism and sexism are recurring themes that are deeply explored and illuminated throughout the novel. The novels’ two main characters Nell and Sula are not only women living in a patriarchal world, they are also African American, which further exposes them to mistreatment and pre-determined societal roles. African Americans during the 1920’s were experiencing great social injustices and mistreatment, along with the likes of women who were also experiencing inequality to a lesser degree during this time as well. In her novel Sula, by addressing and shedding light on the many acts of racism and sexism that occurred during the 1920’s, Toni Morrison shows how African American women experienced the most hardship and injustice in America over any other demographics of people.
From the beginning of the novel, the reader is introduced to the racism and mistreatment the African Americans experience during this time. The narrator tells the story about how the bottom received its name through trickery, and how socially and economically the bottom is considered inferior to the wealthier white neighborhood. Not only did the people of “the bottom” get tricked into the land they now call their own; there is nothing they can do about it other than accept their role in society and move on. ‘The bottom” is used to represent the social injustices African Americans experienced during this time. The bottom was seen as inferior to the wealthier community below, just as African Americans were seen as inferior to the white members of society.
Further into the novel Morrison sheds light on the injustice Africans Americans received during this time through the death of Chicken Little. After discovering Chicken Little’s body in the river, the white community does very little to figure out what happened to the boy as they do not find the death of a black child to be of much importance. Sula and Nell tell no
Cited: Moore, Leonard. Racism and Gender in the 1920’s. “Indiana Magazine of History 88. (1992): 132-137. America: History & Life. Web. 26 Oct. 2014