Free Study Guide: Sula by Toni Morrison: Chapter Summary|
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ONLINE PLOT SUMMARY / ANALYSIS: SULA BY TONI MORRISON
Sula begins to see Ajax. The affair begins when Ajax walks up to Sula’s house with two quarts of milk. They go to the kitchen, where he drinks the milk; then they have sex. Eventually they fall into a frequent pattern of seeing each other, for Ajax regularly stops by to bring Sula food, ice, and household items. He is comfortable about the relationship with Sula, for he believes that she is not interested in a traditional relationship, since everything about her defies tradition and convention. Like most men, he is certainly not interested in commitment.
After a while, Sula begins to feel a new kind of desire for Ajax, unlike
any she has known in her twenty-nine years. She begins to prepare carefully
for his visits; she cooks meals for him, fixes herself up, and chases
off the Deweys so she and her man can be alone. Ajax senses her increasing
devotion to him and desire for a permanent commitment. Fearful of such
things, he makes up his mind to end the relationship. Sula is hurt and
lonely after Ajax leaves, for she had become utterly attached to him.
She looks for memento’s from him and finds his driver's license in a drawer.
When she looks at it, she learns that his name was really Albert Jacks
(or A. Jacks, which sounds just like Ajax). Sula curls up in bed with
his driver’s license, sings a song to comfort herself, and falls asleep.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this section is the insight it lends to Sula’s psyche. Her thoughts and view of the world are presented, rather than simply observing her through other people. Despite the increasing superstitions of the townspeople regarding Sula, her strength is evident and poetically described; but her fragility is also presented. It is obvious that Morrison understands this complicated character very well and has a lot of sympathy for her.
When she returns to Medallion, Sula reveals her thoughts about Nel. She holds her friend to a very high standard and does not accept that Nel can differ from that standard. Sula’s own standards are not so high. She compromises herself by sleeping with Nel’s husband, Jude. After she is caught with Jude, Sula mourns the loss of Nel but is too proud to do anything about it, just as Jude is too ashamed to try and make things right.
Sula definitely has an empty spot in her life without Nel; therefore, she turns to Ajax to try and fill the emptiness. In many ways, Ajax is like Sula; he is kind and wants no commitment. In her loneliness, it is easy for Sula to become attached to him, breaking her own rules. Her devotion to Ajax quickly scares him away. Sula is heart-broken and miserable without him. At the end of the section, she is much like Nel after Jude’s departure. In her pain, Sula has become more human.
It is important to analyze the town’s reaction toward Sula. The people of
The Bottom make up all sorts of tales about her, bordering on the absurd.
Sula is blamed for every misfortune in Medallion. Ironically, as they
persecute Sula, believing her to be an evil force to be defied, the people
of the community become more unified and kinder to each other. When Teapot’s
mother decides to sue Sula, she even becomes a better mother, treating
Teapot with more care and consideration. Therefore, some good comes out
of Sula’s return to The Bottom.
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. 09 May 2017