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The Society Sula Escaped

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The reader has already met Sula in a sense by understanding the dynamics within the hills above the town of Medallion, Ohio. The black community in which she grew up is ironically called the Bottom, and has an array of different personalities and family structures that are continually influencing who Sula becomes as well as defining her values in society.

Before meeting Sula, the reader meets her grandmother, Eva. Eva is a strong minded woman with three children who does whatever it takes to get by. When her husband BoyBoy abandons her, she is forced to beg for food from the neighbors to survive. When things become too much for her, she leaves her children with a neighbor and disappears for eighteen months. When she returns, Eva is missing a leg and has somehow acquired wealth. The town speculates that Eva likely put her leg under a train in order to collect insurance money.

Eva loved all of her children very much, but when her favorite child, Plum returns home from the war with a heroine addiction, she is heartbroken to see him plummeting into that kind of life. One night she goes into his bedroom and poured kerosene over him and burned him to death. In Eva's eyes, she did him a favor and she no longer has to watch him fall into the wrong path.

Sula's mother, Hannah has a reputation much like Eva's. She has frequent affairs with many men and can often be unpredictable. This is the nature of Sula's home, bustling with activity and always full of change. It has a very different and untraditional family structure with two abandoned women in charge of a chaos of children.

On the other spectrum would be Sula's childhood best friend, Nel. While Sula is spontaneous and aggressive, Nel is quiet and unassuming. Sula never hesitated to defend them when bullies would try to tease or hurt them on their walks home, and even went so far as to drown a boy that got in their way. Nel's home is the very opposite to that of Sula's. She came from a traditional family in a home that was repressive and never changing.

Sula disappears from the town she grew up in and returns ten years later in stylish and expensive



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