Sula Thesis Statements and Important Quotes

Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “Sula” by Toni Morrison that can be used as essay starters. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in “Sula” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements for Toni Morrison's “Sula” offer a short summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent paper. Before you begin, however, please get some useful tips and hints about how to use PaperStarter.com in the brief User's Guide…you'll be glad you did.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Importance of Naming in “Sula” by Toni Morrison

In Toni Morrison's novel “Sula” the reader notices that many of the given names and nicknames of the characters in this novel are somewhat unusual, suggesting that there is underlying symbolic meaning and importance in Morrison’s naming. There are a number of different approaches that one could take with an essay on this subject. One approach might be to consider how naming fits within African-American literary tradition and culture. Such an essay on “Sula”, however, would require external sources and sufficient knowledge about this subject. Another approach might be to take one or two characters and analyze their names in relationship to their character traits and their function in the narrative. Whichever approach you choose, be sure to build a strong argument about the importance of naming in the way it is used in this novel.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: A Mother’s Love

In Sula, Morrison resuscitates a theme that is explored in much of her writing: the nature and limits of a mother’s love. Considering the character of Eva, develop an essay in which you analyze Eva’s actions as a mother and either justify or condemn her for her decisions. Include a consideration of the deliberative process (or lack thereof) that Eva goes through before making the decisions that she does with respect to her children. Develop a clear and convincing argument that can persuade your reader to adopt your point of view.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: Liking vs. Loving: Life Lessons in Sula

When Hannah says that she loves Sula but does not like her, she conveys a lesson to the reader about relationships in life. This is but one of many such lessons that Morrison offers the reader in Sula. Identify one or more additional instances in which Morrison teaches the reader about the nature of life and love. Write an essay in which you agree or disagree with Morrison’s lessons and explain why. Offer an opinion as to whether you believe Morrison might have conveyed these lessons more effectively through other plot devices or events.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Notions of Community

There are at least two communities portrayed in Sula: the Black community called The Bottom, and the white community of Medallion. Write an essay in which you explain the ways in which Toni Morrison conceptualizes these communities in Sula. Pay attention to such issues as the names and physical locations of the communities, the details that are used to describe them, the kinds of relationships that occur within and between them, and the conclusion of the novel as a commentary about each. Include a statement of your belief about the message that Toni Morrison wanted to convey about the nature and importance of community, particularly among African Americans in Sula.

Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #5: The Role of Accidents

There are at least two accidents in Sula: the drowning death of Chicken Little and the death-by-fire of Sula’s mother. Considering these incidents, write an essay in which you explain the role that accidents play in the development of the plot. Explain how and why these accidents drive the plot forward, and identify the effects, both short-term and long-term, that they have on the characters and their relationships with one another. Determine whether accidents are more characteristic of one community than another, and if so, explain the significance of your opinion.

* For themes and possible thesis statements that intersect with ideas from the same author, check the PaperStarter entries for other works by Toni Morrison, including “The Bluest Eye” and “Beloved” *


This list of important quotations from “Sula” by Toni Morrison will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Sula listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements on Sula above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text by Toni Morrison they are referring to.

“…it wasn’t a town anyway: just a neighborhood where on quiet days people in valley houses could hear singing sometimes, banjos sometimes…." (4)

“A joke. A n— joke. That’s the way it got started. Not the town, of course, but that part of town where the Negroes lived, the part they called the Bottom in spite of the fact that it was up in the hills." (4)

“High up from us, said the master, but when God looks down it’s the bottom. That’s why we call it so—it’s the bottom of Heaven. Best land there is." (5)

“[They took] small consolation in the fact that every day they could literally look down on the white folks." (5)

“It was not death or dying that frightened him, but the unexpectedness of both." (14)

“As the grateful Plum slept, the silence allowed her to think." (34)

“Two days later she left all her children with Mrs. Suggs, saying she would be back the next day." (34)

“Can’t help lovin’ your own child. No matter what he do." (57)

“You love her like I love Sula. I just don’t like her. That’s the difference." (57)

“He had answered a question she had not asked, and its promise licked at her feet." (63)

Reference: Morrison, Toni. Sula. New York: Plume, 1982

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