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Quest for Self in Sula

Author LiuDongQing
Tutor QinDongZuo
School Shandong University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords dual discrimination womanism Toni Morrison quest for self Sula
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
Downloads 49
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Black women’s struggle for liberation and freedom has been ceaseless. Not only are they looked down upon by the white world, but also suffer in a male-dominated world. Formation of womanism is the production of dual discrimination of racism and sexism against black women. Advocated by Alice Walker, womanism is "committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female." Womanists propose that men and women can live harmoniously together and for the final emancipation, women should attach great importance to their sisterhood bond and cultural heritage.Toni Morrison (1931-) is one of the most notable and distinguished writer in Afro-American literature and contemporary American literature. Through all her life she is concerned with the life and destinies of the blacks, especially black women. Her writing also revolves around the sufferings and salvation for black females. Sula is one typical example in case. As a novel about black women’s quest for self, it concentrates on the friendship between Sula and Nel.Sula, the main character in the novel Sula, concerns a lot about pursuing selfhood. Yet, her self-definition is so self-centered that she pays close attention only to the private self and makes herself blind to her public self and collective self. The concept of "self", the combination of the private self, the public self and the collective self, is in accordance with womanism. From the perspective of womanism, the thesis makes a research on the process of quest for self in Sula. Sula dies years before she accomplishes her quest for self, yet she is not a complete failure, for she awakens her bosom friend Nel to continue her journey of quest for self.This thesis is composed of three chapters. The introduction briefly introduces Toni Morrison’s life experiences, her main works, especially Sula, and literature review of Sula. Chapter one explains the dual discrimination of racism and sexism that black women have to face with and the formation and features of womanism advocated by Alice Walker as well as the interconnection between womanism and self. Chapter two accounts for Sula’s quest for self through her association with men and women in her community. In this process, she holds disparaging and disrespectful attitude towards men and women in the Bottom. Additionally, she shows no interest in the black culture and heritage. All of these lead to her failure as a black woman quest for self. The last chapter deals with the sisterhood bond between Sula and Nel. From this chapter, this thesis concludes that Sula is also successful in her quest for self, for she awakens Nel to pursue her selfhood as a black woman.

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