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Chapter Two: Sula and the Individuality of Mothering
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[Feminists] “were saying that we had to become friends, begin to call ourselves sisters. I remember thinking, what do they mean we have to begin. I reflected on those women in my family, my mother and her friends, who liked each other’s company and in their church called each other sister. I knew what the relationship among those women was, how they cared for one another, liked one another. I can hear them now, all that wonderful laughter about their husbands and sons. But it didn’t seem to me that the company of men, which they enjoyed tremendously, was especially important to them. They were just content with the company of women, sisters and friends and so on.” (Bigsby interview 273).
No other Morrison novel includes as many women characters (most of whom are mothers) as does her 1973 work, Sula. Yet the title character of this hegira is herself not a mother. She is everything else, however, including a witch, a killer, a soul mate of her best childhood friend, Nel, and an integral part of the female culture that dominates life in Medallion, Ohio. As Morrison wrote in her later “Foreword” to the 2003 issue of Sula, Sula must be placed with the novel’s mothers: “Hannah, Nel, Eva, Sula were points of a cross—each one a choice for character bound by gender and race. The nexus of that cross would be a merging of responsibility and liberty difficult to...
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