slant of life

slant of life - Jason Mull Sula Rough Draft (quotation #2)...

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Jason Mull ‘Sula’ Rough Draft (quotation #2) 10-30-08 “The Slant of Life” Jan Furman, in her piece Toni Morrison’s Fiction , accuses the main character of Morrison’s Sula of being “without an essential quality of humanity.” She refers to Sula as being “unthinking and childlike,” lacking “a crucial element of consciousness.” On the other hand, Furman sees the life of Sula’s counterpart, Nel, as being marked by a certain “falseness and emptiness.” While I agree with Furman’s assessment of Nel, I disagree with that of Sula. There is nothing inhuman about the character of Sula. She, in fact, seems to encapsulate some form of unadulterated humanity, unfettered by the restrictions of societal norms. Sula is driven by the very desires and needs which make us essentially human. She is “as willing to feel pain as to give pain, to feel pleasure as to give pleasure” (119). She is completely unaffected by that which restricts most from being as organic, natural, and human as they can possibly be. She does, as Furman relates, lack moderation and control, but this does not, to me, represent a case of “arrested” development, as Furman puts it, but rather an advancement beyond false trivialities. Nel, on the other hand, is essentially inhuman in the way she interacts with the world. She becomes detached from her own needs and desires. She essentially ignores and denies her own humanity in an attempt to fulfill certain roles and duties that she feels are required of her. The contrasts between Sula and Nel lie at the core of the novel. In the case of love and marriage, for example, Nel and Sula lie at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Both are
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clear products of their nurturing. Seeing her mother take men into the pantry to make love, and coming out “looking precisely as [they] did when [they] entered, only happier, taught Sula that sex was pleasant and frequent, but otherwise unremarkable” (44). Sula sees sex as something pleasurable and nothing more. She doesn’t see it as being monumental, or feel any real obligation to have it beyond circumstances intended for her own pleasure. Sula had “lived in a
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slant of life - Jason Mull Sula Rough Draft (quotation #2)...

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