Childhood friendships are often the stuff of deep, organic, unspoken connection. Toni Morrison’s second novel, Sula (1973), traces the friendship between the title character and her friend Nel, girls who, during their childhoods in the Bottom, a segregated black neighborhood in Medallion, Ohio, were “two throats and one eye,” yet whose connection is ultimately fractured. Although they come from starkly contrasting families, Sula and Nel forge an abiding friendship and emotional connection, solidified by their holding the secret of an accidental death.
Morrison traces the path of Sula and Nel’s relationship over decades — through a deep rupture, a partial reconciliation, and the realization of how loss of connection can devastate and create “circles and circles of sorrow.” The novel challenges us to consider female friendships: their power and possibilities; how forces such as patriarchy, economics, family, and race structure and (re)strain such connections; and the price women pay for the choices they make and the agency they exercise.
Centers for Educational Equity and Excellence, CE3
This book is part of the 2020 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!