Toni Morrison

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The Birthmark

Sula Peace’s most obvious physical characteristic is the large birthmark immediately above her eyes. The birthmark is intimidating and even frightening, and inspires many elaborate stories among the people of the Bottom. Yet it’s…

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Fire figures prominently in Sula—in arguably the two most important scenes in the book, the death of Hannah Peace and the death of Plum Peace, fire “removes” a character from the story. Fire…

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The Plague of Robins

When Sula Peace returns to the Bottom in 1937, she’s followed by a large flock of birds—Morrison describes it as a “plague of robins.” Morrison is being a little ironic: she knows perfectly…

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The New River Road

In the 1930s, a new “public works” project is proposed in Medallion, Ohio: a road that will connect the black neighborhood of the Bottom with some of the surrounding white communities. While it’s not explicitly…

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National Suicide Day

After returning from the devastation of World War I, Shadrack founds a new “holiday”—National Suicide Day. On this day, he walks through the streets of Medallion, ringing a bell and yelling about suicide…

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