Reclaiming Identity in Toni Morrison's Sula

Toni Morrison novels famously give voice to a black political, social, and moral conscience. Her novels deal primarily with the issues and concerns of black heritage and future and all the triumphs and tragedies of power and identity in between. Morrison uses the very processes of writing and characterization as a tool of negotiation of power and identity in her novel Sula. Her racial and political explorations can be effectively deepened and complicated for the reader by considering her language as a tool of black agency.

"Before [Shadrack] on a tray was a large tin plate divided into three triangles. In one triangle was rice, in another meat, and in the third stewed tomatoes . . . Shadrack stared at the soft colors that filled these triangles: the lumpy whiteness of rice, the quivering blood tomatoes, the grayish-brown meat. All their repugnance was contained in the neat balance of the triangles - a balance that soothed him, transferred some of its equilibrium to him. Thus reassured that the white, the red and the brown would stay where they were - would not explode or burst forth from their restricted zones - he suddenly felt hungry and looked around for his hands" (pg. 8).

The divided meal Morrison describes here...

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