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(1) Setting: 99% of the action takes place in the Bottom, which is actually up in the hills. I liked how they came up with the name of "The Bottom" because it's the bottom of Heaven. I don't think I can really relate to the town, basically because it was mainly an African-American populated, poorer income family neighborhood, and I've grown up in Ames and other places I've generally deemed as safe. The bottom to me reminded me of when I go on Appalachia Service Project and go work in the hills. That's how I pictured the scenery. Throughout the book, the narrator describes the Bottom, the town in the Bottom named Medallion and the area in general. It sounded wooded and not populous, as if on the verge of the civilized world. There are a lot of tiny descriptions of the area that the book takes place in. Some of the descriptions are less about the scenery around them, but how the people in the town interpret life.
"Still, it was lovely up in the Bottom. After the town grew and the farm land turned into a village and the village into a town and the streets of Medallion were hot and dusty with progress, those heavy trees that sheltered the shacks up in the Bottom were wonderful to see."
The first good description in the book is towards the beginning, when the Narrator describes the Bottom. When Nel and her mother are on the train to New Orleans, the description of the scenery was really pretty.
"For two days they rode; two days of watching sleet turn to rain, turn to purple sunsets, and one night knotted on the wooden seats (their heads on folded coats)..."
(2) Plot: The plot describes the growth of two young girls into middle-aged women, and of all the incidents that occur to distance them while drawing them closer together in the same sense. Also, things that happened early in their life, such as drowning Chicken Little, came back up in conversation later on. Sula and Nel accidentally drowned Chicken Little, Nel was the calm one and I figured Sula would be because she had dealt with, and just watched, death before. The only death Nel had experienced was that of her grandmother with the woman who used a burnt match to darken her eyebrows, which also struck me as weird. The girls both begin growing up in two different types of households. One house was strict and religious, the other with a lack of morals and a lady in a wagon with one leg. Despite the differences in lifestyle, the girls are attracted to each other and become best friends. The girls accidentally drown Chicken Little, and at this point their relationship begins to deteriorate. Sula leaves for 10 years of affairs, wild life, and a disregard for the rules. She comes back and Nel is married with children. Sula, with some of her mother's passion for men, steals away Nel's husband, which splits their friendship even more. At the end of the book, Nel realizes how much Sula meant to her. Nel realized she'd always looked at herself as the good side of the relationship, and as she spoke with Sula's mother, she realized that she always had tried to make herself good. She realized that when Sula and her husband both disappeared out of her life, it was only Sula she missed. I never really understood why the narrator didn't touch on Sula's feelings as much as Nel's, but I think it's because Nel has more things that affect her emotionally.
There's never really a balance or peace in the story to begin with. As each character is introduced, it seemed like each one had their own set of problems and the problems would escalate and combine with other problems to make huge problems. For instance, Plum's depression and heroin addiction and Eva's habit of being really weird combined into Eva killing Plum by setting him on fire.
Names mentioned in this term paper
Nel, Sula, herself, Shadrack,
Keywords referenced in this term paper
the bottom, Toni Morrison, main, Plum, good and evil, Chicken, Appalachia Service Project, description, deals, World War I, calm, interesting, One thing, religious symbolism, biblical, scenery, white people, single mother, fiery furnace, problems, heroin addiction, best friends, New Orleans, short story, a story, character traits, emotional pain, mental image, sweet peas, red dress, third person, a dream, Medallion, creepy, heroine, Ajax, window, first one, miscellaneous, Suicide, random, hills, girl, trinity, eyebrows, escalate, segue, darken, poorer, drown,