Event Title

Tracking Trauma: An Analysis of Sula

Session Title

Literature

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor

Leslie Bickford, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of English

Description

This paper analyzes how racism constructs the characters in Toni Morrison’s Sula and how discrimination can lead to corrupt traits. Through a New Historical lens and a tracing of family history within the text, it becomes clear that the characters are shaped by discriminatory policies such as segregation. In this paper, I trace the characters’ lineage to assess how racism infiltrates generation after generation. Although critics such as Ali Salami and Naeem Nedaee argue that the characters are free from their context, my paper demonstrates how trauma functions as an heirloom by creating negative traits, and in turn also causing the traits to affect each descending family member. In conclusion, by analyzing the history of the Black community in America, more recent causes of discriminatory incidents become connected through the context. Viewing Sula through this point of view, I demonstrate how it is impossible to view the characters as solely corrupt individuals. Their circumstances, created by an arbitrary concept such as racism, cannot define them alone. Through these means, Sula herself becomes a victim rather than the perpetrator.

Previously Presented/Performed?

South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA) Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, November 2019; Sixth Annual Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE), Winthrop University, April 2020

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

Tracking Trauma: An Analysis of Sula

This paper analyzes how racism constructs the characters in Toni Morrison’s Sula and how discrimination can lead to corrupt traits. Through a New Historical lens and a tracing of family history within the text, it becomes clear that the characters are shaped by discriminatory policies such as segregation. In this paper, I trace the characters’ lineage to assess how racism infiltrates generation after generation. Although critics such as Ali Salami and Naeem Nedaee argue that the characters are free from their context, my paper demonstrates how trauma functions as an heirloom by creating negative traits, and in turn also causing the traits to affect each descending family member. In conclusion, by analyzing the history of the Black community in America, more recent causes of discriminatory incidents become connected through the context. Viewing Sula through this point of view, I demonstrate how it is impossible to view the characters as solely corrupt individuals. Their circumstances, created by an arbitrary concept such as racism, cannot define them alone. Through these means, Sula herself becomes a victim rather than the perpetrator.