Evil and Conformity in Toni Morrison's Sula

This novel is entitled Sula, after the woman who takes the conventions of her small home town and turns them completely upside down, but the story itself would not be complete without her friend and counterpart who embodies these conventions, Nel. Although overall this is not a very realistic novel, Morrison builds these two characters realistically out of their two very different upbringings. One girl has her imagination stifled and is always surrounded by order and cleanliness, with a mother who is a moral pillar of the community, while the second little girl comes of age in a household that is in constant disarray, with no male role models and a mother who is openly promiscuous. In spite of their very different origins, the two girls find each other and build a strong bond of friendship. By presenting the reader with these two friends who eventually choose opposing paths in their adult lives, Morrison conveys her criticism of people who blindly succumb to societal conventions, revealing it as a shortcoming that can be detrimental to a person's humanity. The "evil" actions of Sula provide a dialectic to the rest of the people in the Bottom who seem to thrive on conformity. What exactly is evil and why is it...

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