The Effect of Death on Different Characters in Sula

The role of death, both physically and mentally, has a heavy effect on characters in Toni Morrison’s Sula. Shadrack survives as a soldier during World War I, dealing directly with death that he sees all around. Like Shadrack, Plum returns home emotionally distraught from the war and is killed by his mother out of love. The struggling relationship between Hannah and Eva gets increasingly difficult after Eva kills her own son, Plum, but then sacrifices her own life for her daughter as she burns to death.

The first case of death involves Shadrack, a World War I veteran from the Bottom, who returns from war traumatized after seeing a fellow soldier’s head blown off in front of him. While he is in the hospital, his mindset is still as if he is in the war. Before doing any task such as eating, he has to convince himself that he is no longer in battle. Morrison says, “Thus reassured that the white, the red and the brown would stay where they were – would not explode or bust forth from their restricted zones – he suddenly felt hungry and looked around for his hands” (Morrison 9). Shadrack has gotten to the point where he is afraid of everything, including his own hands. He ironically returns from the war less afraid of death than he was...

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