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Sula | Part Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • In the beginning

    A white farmer tricks a freed slave into thinking hills are fertile bottom land.

    Part 1, Introduction
  • 1917 to 1919

    Shadrack fights in World War I, is injured, and comes home to the Bottom with PTSD.

    Part 1, 1919
  • January 3, 1920

    Shadrack holds the first National Suicide Day, walking through town ringing a bell.

    Part 1, 1919
  • November 1920

    Helene goes to her grandmother's funeral in New Orleans. She takes Nel and sees her mother.

    Part 1, 1920
  • After the trip

    Nel becomes friends with Sula, who is accepted by Helene despite Sula's mother's bad reputation.

    Part 1, 1920
  • Early to mid-1921

    Eva, having raised her kids alone, takes in vagrants and adopts the three Deweys.

    Part 1, 1921
  • Late 1921

    Hannah raises Sula alone and takes lovers. Eva ends Plum's drug addiction by setting him on fire.

    Part 1, 1921
  • Early to mid-1922

    Nel and Sula get attacked by white boys. Sula slices off her fingertip to scare them away.

    Part 1, 1922
  • July 1922

    Sula hears Hannah say she doesn't like her. She runs off with Nel and accidentally drowns Chicken.

    Part 1, 1922
  • 1923

    Hannah catches fire in the yard. Eva is hurt trying to save her. Sula watches her burn. Hannah dies.

    Part 1, 1923
  • 1927

    Jude can't get a construction job. He marries Nel. Sula, the bridesmaid, throws a party.

    Part 1, 1927
  • Spring 1937

    Sula comes home amidst a plague of robins and gets guardianship of Eva, committing her to Sunnydale.

    Part 2, 1937
  • May 1937

    Sula visits Nel, meets Jude, and gets caught sleeping with Jude. Jude leaves Nel for Sula.

    Part 2, 1937
  • Early 1939

    Sula is a pariah. She is blamed for Teapot's broken leg and other maladies.

    Part 2, 1939
  • Later 1939

    After a string of lovers, Sula falls for Ajax. Ajax leaves her when she acts like he belongs to her.

    Part 2, 1939
  • 1940

    Sula is deathly ill. Nel visits to help. Sula is unrepentant about Jude. Nel leaves, and Sula dies.

    Part 2, 1940
  • Late 1940

    No one goes to Sula's burial. The people sing afterward, but a bad harvest and a bad winter follow.

    Part 2, 1941
  • January 3, 1941

    Shadrack is sad about Sula. National Suicide Day becomes a march to destroy the tunnel; many die.

    Part 2, 1941
  • 1965

    Nel visits Eva at Sunnydale. She discovers Eva is mean and realizes it's Sula, not Jude, she misses.

    Part 2, 1965

Part Summaries Chart

Part Summary
Part 1, Introduction The narrator begins the novel by mourning the disappearance of the Bottom to make room for a golf course and mansions fo... Read More
Part 1, 1919 Shadrack, a young soldier, sees combat in World War I in December 1919. He witnesses fellow soldiers being blown to bits... Read More
Part 1, 1920 Helene Wright was raised by her religious grandmother because her mother was a prostitute living in a brothel. In 1920 H... Read More
Part 1, 1921 Eva Peace directs a chaotic household from her "wagon" on the third floor—a wagon she needs because she only has one leg... Read More
Part 1, 1922 Nel and Sula become inseparable best friends, and Nel stops worrying about her looks, hiding the clothespin her mother m... Read More
Part 1, 1923 This chapter relates a number of events that Eva believes are strange, all of which serve as omens for the tragedy that ... Read More
Part 1, 1927 Nel is getting married to Jude Greene, and all of the Bottom is half drunk because someone poured cane liquor into the p... Read More
Part 2, 1937 Sula's return to Medallion is heralded by a plague of robins. Normally a welcome harbinger of spring, too many robins ha... Read More
Part 2, 1939 Sula becomes a pariah in the Bottom because not only does she take Jude from Nel, but she soon leaves Jude for a string ... Read More
Part 2, 1940 Three years pass. Nel hasn't seen Sula once in those three years and decides to visit her because she hears Sula is very... Read More
Part 2, 1941 When Sula Peace dies, the people of the Bottom sing and are hopeful that things are going to get better. They don't go t... Read More
Part 2, 1965 Nel is one of the few people in Medallion still walking everywhere instead of driving a car, and she has witnessed all t... Read More
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