The language, the imagery, the themes, the characters, everything in Toni Morrison's Sula, touches my heart. I want these people to win, to know goodness in their lives, to stop being small. I want the loud and long cry of rage which has no bottom or top with "circles and circles of sorrow" to end (Sula 174). Morrison embraces the political aspects of her work without apology and freely admits to desiring to emote a reader response. She maintains, "the best art is political and you ought to be able to make it unquestionably political and irrevocably beautiful at the same time" ("Rootedness" 345). Without question, Morrison is able to do both. In her analogy, comparing our place as readers of her writing to that of the congregation of the Black preacher, our response to her writing should be "to stand up and to weep and to cry and to accede or to change and to modify-to expand" on what is given (341). We are not to read passively but should feel compelled to respond. Morrison says there are things worth fighting for in this life, regardless of the outcome. The response to an injustice system needs to be rage and the claiming of true value.
Morrison chose certain years for the chapter headings to make a strong political statement. The final chapter, "1965" may relate to the Vietnam War. But "1965", is not just about war. It is about how African Americans are treated by the governing systems even after the war. Starting with the introduction, the creation of the Bottom takes place after the end of slavery. Researching American history, I find that the Juneteenth celebration began a hundred years prior to this year marker. This is a celebration of the ending of slavery.
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862. The proclamation stated that on January 1, 1863, all people held in slavery in the United States would be "forever free." But all enslaved people did not become free on that date. Not until more than two years later did the enslaved people of Texas learn that they were free. The word came on June 19th, 1865. (Banks 444)
Morrison has two purposes in drawing our attention to this marker. It shows the integrity of the government that takes two and a half years for Texas slaves to learn they are free. The second is to question how far the African Americans have come in a hundred years of "freedom". Vietnam is heating up, and Black troops are among the many called to fight the war. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws segregation in public places and makes it illegal to deny a person a job on the basis of gender, age or skin color (556). Another victory is won when The Voting Rights Act of 1965 passes, guaranteeing the right of all Americans to vote (557). Finally, African Americans have a voice in their future. It only took a hundred years after the ending of slavery to have these critical rights. Despite all the mandated change, discrimination continues; and Malcolm X, a volatile leader who...