Free Study Guide: Sula by Toni Morrison: Chapter Summary|
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FREE BOOKNOTES / LESSON PLAN FOR SULA BY TONI MORRISON
The town is so disheartened by the rough winter that several of them
actually join Shadrack in his parade. Soon the small parade becomes a
large procession, with nearly everyone from The Bottom joining in. Something
happens and the procession turns toward the white part of town, down the
River Road toward the tunnel. The angry, frustrated mob begins to riot;
they smash things and break things and tear the construction site apart.
Then they make their way into the tunnel. Loose rock begins to fall, water
gushes in, and masses of people from The Bottom are killed, including
Tar Baby, the Deweys, and a few of Ajax's brothers. Shadrack stands above
the tunnel, ringing his bell and watching the tragedy of death unfold
Even though neither Sula nor Nel is present, this section brings The Bottom to a climax. The emphasis is on Shadrack; for the first time, Morrison describes him and his thinking in detail. His life is filled with loneliness, for the only human visitor to ever come in his shack was Sula, on the day that Chicken Little died. He could tell the child was frightened and tried to comfort her by saying the word “always.” Even though she runs away from him before he can help her, he always thinks of the girl as a friend. It is ironic that someone really did love Sula, though she never actually knew it. It is also touching that Shadrack is so affected by Sula’s death that he has no real interest in his National Suicide Day. He goes to the parade mechanically and out of obligation. Ironically, this National Suicide Day attracts a lot of attention. People are tired of the miserable weather and bad fortune they have experienced; as a result, some of them join in the parade. Before long, it is a large procession.
There is an emotional high tide in The Bottom that carries the people off to the white part of town. They find themselves at the tunnel, where anger takes over. They tear at the tunnel, hoping to destroy the thing that they have not been able to build. They go inside the tunnel to do more damage; ironically, they are the ones who are damaged. It is truly a suicide day, where many Blacks in The Bottom are killed due to their blind anger. It is an anger that is reflective of the emotions of both Nel and Sula.
It is notable that neither Nel, nor her mother, is among those who join the
parade; mother and daughter are much too prim and proper to show such
emotion. As a result, Nel’s respectability, the thing that Sula has criticized
about her friend, has probably saved her from death in the tunnel.
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. 09 May 2017