Sula

The Presence of Absence: Understanding Sula College

Absence is an exceedingly powerful thing. Absence is not a brief silence, or an easily forgotten moment, or a matter of little or no consequence. It is a feeling of perpetuity, a constant gnawing in the stomach and at the back of the mind. Absence is always present. In Toni Morrison’s Sula, absence runs rampant amongst the citizens of the Bottom; there is absence of love, of loyalty and understanding, of essentially everything that binds people together; there is blood, and a forsaking of everything else, of everything that matters so much more. Fathers abandon their children, husbands their wives. Mothers stay but leave their children wondering if they have ever been truly loved. Friends turn their backs on one another and choose anger, grief, and sorrow over catharsis. It is the lack of pure loyalty and understanding that leads, without exception, to the downfall of each and every character.

There is no betrayal so great in its devastation as the betrayal of a parent against his or her child. The people of the Bottom consider themselves connoisseurs on the topic of evil; they stand resolute in their collective belief that “the presence of evil [is] something to be first recognized, then dealt with, survived, outwitted,...

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