Toni Morrison Sula Quotes

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Like any artist without an art form, she became dangerous.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Lonely, ain't it? Yes, but my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else's. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain't that something? A secondhand lonely.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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It was a fine cry - loud and long - but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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When you gone to get married? You need to have some babies. It’ll settle you.' 'I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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The presence of evil was something to be first recognized, then dealt with, survived, outwitted, triumphed over.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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There in the center of that silence was not eternity but the death of time and a loneliness so profound the word itself had no meaning.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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In a way, her strangeness, her naivetΓ©, her craving for the other half of her equation was the consequence of an idle imagination. Had she paints, or clay, or knew the discipline of the dance, or strings, had she anything to engage her tremendous curiosity and her gift for metaphor, she might have exchanged the restlessness and preoccupation with whim for an activity that provided her with all she yearned for. And like an artist with no art form, she became dangerous.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Being good to somebody is just like being mean to somebody. Risky. You don't get nothing for it.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Every now and then she looked around for tangible evidence of his having ever been there. Where were the butterflies? the blueberries? the whistling reed? She could find nothing, for he had left nothing but his stunning absence.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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The real hell of Hell is that it is forever.' Sula said that. She said doing anything forever and ever was hell.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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You been gone too long, Sula. Not too long, but maybe too far.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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You looked at me then like you knew me, and I thought it really was Eden, and I couldn't take your eyes in because I was loving the hoof marks on your cheeks.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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I sure did live in this world.' 'Really? What have you got to show for it?' 'Show? To who? I got my mind. And what goes on in it. Which is to say, I got me.' 'Lonely, ain't it?' 'Yes. But my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else's. Made by somebody else and handed to you.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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She had been looking all along for a friend, and it took her a while to discover that a lover was not a comrade and could never be - for a woman. And that no one would ever be that version of herself which she sought to reach out to and touch with an ungloved hand. There was only her own mood and whim, and if that was all there was, she decided to turn the naked hand toward it, discover it and let others become as intimate with their own selves as she was.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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the loss pressed down on her chest and came up into her throat. it was a fine cry -- loud and long -- but it had no bottom and no top, just circles and circles of sorrow.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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It would be ten years before they saw each other again, and their meeting would be thick with birds.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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O Lord, Sula,” she cried, β€œgirl, girl, girlgirlgirl.” It was a fine cryβ€”loud and longβ€”but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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It had been the longest time since she had had a rib-scraping laugh. She had forgotten how deep and down it could be. So different from the miscellaneous giggles and smiles she had learned to be content with these past few years.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Pain was greedy; it demanded all of her attention.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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The narrower their lives, the wider their hips.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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There, in the center of that silence was not eternity but the death of time and a loneliness so profound the word itself had no meaning. For loneliness assumed the absence of other people, and the solitude she found in that desperate terrain had never admitted the possibility of other people. She wept then. Tears for the deaths of the littlest things: the castaway shoes of children; broken stems of marsh grass battered and drowned by the sea; prom photographs of dead women she never knew; wedding rings in pawnshop windows; the tiny bodies of Cornish hens in a nest of rice.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Because each had discovered years before that they were neither white nor male, and that all freedom and triumph was forbidden to them, they had set about creating something else to be.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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But Jude,' she would say, 'you knew me. All those days and years, Jude, you knew me. My ways and my hands and how my stomach folded and how we tried to get Mickey to nurse and how about that time when the landlord said...but you said...and I cried, Jude. You knew me and had listened to the things I said in the night, and heard me in the bathroom and laughed at my raggedy girdle and I laughed too because I knew you too, Jude. So how could you leave me when you knew me?
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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...Sula was wrong. Hell ain't things lasting forever. Hell is change." Not only did men leave and children grow up and die, but even the misery didn't last. One day she wouldn't even have that. This very grief that had twisted her into a curve on the floor and flayed her would be gone. She would lose that too. Why, even in hate here I am thinking of what Sula said.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Much handled things are always soft(27).
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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It was not death or dying that frightened him, but the unexpectedness of both. In sorting it all out, he hit on the notion that if one day a year were devoted to it, everybody could get it out of the way and the rest of the year would be safe and free. In this manner he instituted National Suicide Day.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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It hit her like a sledgehammer, and it was then that she knew what to feel. A liquid trail of hate flooded her chest. Knowing that she would hate him long and well filled her with pleasant anticipation, like when you know you are going to fall in love with someone and you wait for the happy signs. Hating BoyBoy, she could get on with it, and have the safety, the thrill, the consistency of that hatred as long as she wanted or needed it to define and strengthen her or protect her from routine vulnerabilities.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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He said, 'Always. Always.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Seeing her step so easily from the pantry and emerge looking precisely as she did when she entered, only happier, taught Sula that sex was pleasant and frequent, but otherwise unremarkable.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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They did not believe death was accidental - life might be, but death was deliberate.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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I'm me," she whispered. "Me" Nel didn't know quite what she meant, but on the other hand she knew exactly what she meant. "I'm me. I'm not their daughter. I'm not Nel. I'm me. Me." Every time she said the word me there was a gathering in her like power, like joy, like fear. Back in bed with her discovery, she stared out the window at the dark leaves of the horse chestnut. "Me," she murmured. And then, sinking deeper into the quilts, "I want... I want to be... wonderful. Oh, Jesus, make me wonderful.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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They held hands and knew that only the coffin would lie in the earth; the bubbly laughter and the press of fingers in the palm would stay aboveground forever. At first, as they stood there, their hands were clenched together. They relaxed slowly until during the walk back home their fingers were laced in as gentle a clasp as that of any two young girlfriends trotting up the road on a summer day wondering what happened to butterflies in the winter.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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When she awoke there was a melody in her head she could not identify or recall ever hearing before. 'Perhaps I made it up,' she thought. Then it came to her - the name of the song and all its lyrics just as she had heard it many times before. She sat on the edge of the bed thinking, 'There aren't any more new songs and I have sung all the ones there are. I have sung them all. I have sung all the songs there are.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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they ran in the sunlight, creating their own breeze which pressed their dresses into their damp skin. Reaching a kind of square of four locked trees which promised cooling; they flung themselves into the shade to taste their lip sweat and contemplate the wildness that had come upon them so suddenly
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Then summer came. A summer limp with the weight of blossomed things. Heavy sunflowers weeping over fences; iris curling and browning at the edges far away from their purple hearts; ears of corn letting their auburn hair wind down to their stalks. AND THE BOYS. The beautiful, beautiful boys who dotted the landscape like jewels, split the air with their shouts in the field, and thickened the river with their shining wet backs. EVEN THEIR FOOTSTEPS LEFT A SMELL OF SMOKE BEHIND!
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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In the safe harbor of each other's company they could afford to abandon the ways of other people and concentrate on their own perceptions of things.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Sula never competed; she simply helped others define themselves.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Shadrack rose and returned to the cot, where he fell into the first sleep of his new life. A sleep deeper than the hospital drugs; deeper than the pits of plums, steadier than the condor's wing; more tranquil than the curve of eggs.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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In a way, her strangeness, her naivete, her craving for the other half of her equation was the consequence of idle imagination. Had she paints, or clay, or knew the discipline of the dance, or strings; had she anything to engage her tremendous curiosity and her gift for metaphor, she might have exchanged the restlessness and preoccupation with whim for an activity that provided her with all she yearned for. And like any artist with no art from, she became dangerous.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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.. And then, "I was good to you, Sula, why don't that matter?"...... "How you know?" Sula asked.... "About who was good. How you know it was you?
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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They did not believe Nature was ever askew–only inconvenient. Plague and drought were as β€œnatural” as springtime. If milk could curdle, God knows robins could fall.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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... social conversation was impossible for her because she could not lie.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Don't let your mouth start nothing your ass can't stand.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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I didn't even know his name. And if I didn't know his name then there is nothing I did know and I have known nothing ever at all since the one thing I wanted was to know his name so how could he help but leave me since he was making love to a woman who didn't even know his name.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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And even later, when for the first time in her life she had lain in bed with a man and said his name involuntarily or said it truly meaning him, the name she was screaming and saying was not his at all.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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And like any artist with no art form, she became dangerous.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Female freedom always means sexual freedom, even whenβ€”especially whenβ€”it is seen through the prism of economic freedom.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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For the mouths of her children quickly forgot the taste of her nipples, and years ago they had begun to look past her face into the nearest stretch of sky.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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They were solitary little girls whose loneliness was so profound it intoxicated them and sent them stumbling into Technicolored visions that always included a presence, a someone, who, quite like the dreamer, shared the delight of the dream.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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After all that carryin' on just gettin' him out and keepin' him alive he wanted to crawl back in my womb and well...I ain't got the room no more even if he could do it. There wasn't space for him in my womb (71).
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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O Jesus, I could be a mule or plow the furrows with my hands if need be or hold those rickety walls up with my back if need be if I knew that somewhere in this world in the pocket of some night I could open my legs to some cowboy lean hips but you are trying to tell me no and O my sweet Jesus what kind of cross is that?
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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I didn't kill him, I just fucked him
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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They did not believe death was accidentalβ€”life might be, but death was deliberate.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Whatever's burning in me is mine
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Sula was distinctly different. Eva’s arrogance and Hannah’s self-indulgence merged in her and, with a twist that was all her own imagination, she lived out her days exploring her own thoughts and emotions, giving them full reign, feeling no obligation to please anybody unless their pleasure pleased her. As willing to feel pain as to give pain, to feel pleasure as to give pleasure, hers was an experimental life – ever since her mother’s remarks sent her flying up those stairs, ever since her one major feeling of responsibility had been exorcised on the bank of a river with a closed place in the middle. The first experience taught her there was no other that you could count on; the second that there was no self to count on either. She had no center, no speck around which to grow. […] She was completely free of ambition, with no affection for money, property or things, no greed, no desire to command attention or compliments – no ego. For that reason she felt no compulsion to verify herself – be consistent with herself
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Hunched down in the small bright room Nel waited. Waited for the oldest cry. A scream not for others, not in sympathy for a burnt child, or a dead father, but a deeply personal cry for one's own pain. A loud, strident: 'Why me?' She waited.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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She looked around for a place to be. A small place. The closet? ... It was both small and bright, and she wanted to be in a very small, very bright place. Small enough to contain her grief.Bright enough to throw into relief the dark things that cluttered her.Once inside, she sank to the tile floor next to the toilet. On her knees, her hand on the cold rim of the bathtub, she waited for something to happen…inside.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Perhaps Hurston saw in her mother, Lucy, a version of Persephone, who is so missed when she's gone that the world literally starts to die. This type of grief, as Toni Morrison writes in Sula, has no top and no bottom, "just circles and circles of sorrow.
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Edwidge Danticat (The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story)
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All that time, all that time, I thought I was missing Jude.” And the loss pressed down on her chest and came up into her throat. β€œWe was girls together,” she said as though explaining something. β€œO Lord, Sula,” she cried, β€œgirl, girl, girlgirlgirl.” It was a fine cryβ€”loud and longβ€”but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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She didn't even know she had a neck until Jude remarked on it, or that her smile was anything but the spreading of her lips until he saw it as a small miracle.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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What was taken by outsiders to be slackness, slovenliness or even generosity was in fact a full recognition of the legitimacy of forces other than good ones.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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It was not death or dying that frightened him, but the unexpectedness of both.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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She went to bed with men as frequently as she could. It was the only place where she could find what she was looking for: misery and the ability to feel deep sorrow.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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She had been looking all along for a friend, and it took her a while to discover that a lover was not a comrade and could never beβ€”for a woman.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Carefully they replaced the soil and covered the entire grave with uprooted grass. Neither one had spoken a word.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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She lived out her days exploring her own thoughts and emotions, giving them full reign. Feeling no obligation to please anybody unless the pleasure pleased her.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Short Perfect Novels Too Loud a Solitude, by Bohumil Hrabel Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson Sula, by Toni Morrison The Shadow-Line, by Joseph Conrad The All of It, by Jeannette Haine Winter in the Blood, by James Welch Swimmer in the Secret Sea, by William Kotzwinkle The Blue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald First Love, by Ivan Turgenev Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf Waiting for the Barbarians, by J. M. Coetzee Fire on the Mountain, by Anita Desai
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Louise Erdrich (The Sentence)
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Maybe it hadn't been a community, but it had been a place. Now there weren't any places left, just separate houses with separate televisions and separate televisions and less and less dropping by.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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As Reverend Deal moved into his sermon, the hands of the women unfolded like pairs of raven's wings and flew high above their hats in the air. They did not hear all of what he said;they heard the one word, or phrase, or inflection that was for them the connection between the event and themselves. For some it was the term "Sweet Jesus". And they saw the Lamb's eye and the truly innocent victim: themselves. They acknowledged the innocent child hiding in the corner of their hearts, holding a sugar-and-butter sandwich. That one. The one who lodged deep in their fat, thin, old, young skin, and was the one the world had hurt. Or they thought of their son newly killed and remembered his legs in short pants and wondered where the bullet went in. Or they remembered how dirty the room looked when their father left home and wondered if that is the way the slim, young Jew, he who for them was both son and lover and in whose downy face they could see the sugar-and-butter sandwiches and feel the oldest and most devastating pain there is : not the pain of childhood, but the remembrance of it.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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He felt twilight. Not there seemed to be some kind of wet light traveling over his legs and stomach with a deeply attractive smell. It wound itself-this wet light- all about him, splashing and running into his skin. He opened his eyes and saw what he imagined was the great wing of an eagle pouring a wet lightness over him. Some kind of baptism, some kind of blessing, he thought. Everything is going to be all right, it said. Knowing that it was so he closed his eyes and sank back into the bright hole of sleep.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Well, don't let your mouth start nothing that your ass can't stand. When you gone to get married? You need to have some babies. It'll settle you." "I don't want to make somebody else. I want to make myself.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Nothing in this world loves a black man more than another black man. You hear of solitary white men, but niggers? Can’t stay away from one another a whole day. So. It looks to me like you the envy of the world.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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If I take a chamois and rub real hard on the bone, right on the ledge of your cheek bone, some of the black will disappear. It will flake away into the chamois and underneath there will be gold leaf. I can see it shining through the black. I know it is there… [...] And if I take a nailfile or even Eva’s old paring knife - that will do - and scrape away at the gold, it will fall away, it will fall away and there will be alabaster. The alabaster is what gives your face its planes, its curves. That is why your mouth smiling does not reach your eyes. Alabaster is giving it a gravity that resists a total smile.

 [...] Then I can take a chisel and small tap hammer and tap away at the alabaster. It will crack then like ice under the pick, and through the breaks I will see the loam, fertile, free of pebbles and twigs. For it is the loam that is giving you that smell.

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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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She thought of the women at Chicken Little's funeral. The women who shrieked over the bier and at the lip of the open grave. What she had regarded since as unbecoming behavior seemed fitting to her now; they were screaming at the neck of God, his giant nape, the vast back-of-the-head that he had turned on them in death. But it seemed to her now that it was not a fist-shaking grief they were keening but rather a simple obligation to say something, do something, feel something about the dead. They could not let that heart-smashing event pass unrecorded, unidentified. It was poisonous, unnatural to let the dead go with a mere whimpering, a slight murmur, a rose bouquet of good taste. Good taste was out of place in the company of death, death itself was the essence of bad taste. And there must be much rage and saliva in its presence. The body must move and throw itself about, the eyes must roll, the hands should have no peace, and the throat should release all the yearning, despair and outrage that accompany the stupidity of loss.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Their children were like distant but exposed wounds whose aches were no less intimate because separate from their flesh. They had looked at the world and back at their children, back at the world and back again at their children, and Sula knew that one clear young eye was all that kept the knife away from the throat's curve.
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Toni Morrison
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He dragged her under him and made love to her with the steadiness and the intensity of a man about to leave for Dayton.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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I refused to explain, or even acknowledge, the β€œproblem” as anything other than an artistic one.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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To use folk language, vernacular in a manner neither exotic nor comic, neither minstrelized nor microscopically analyzed.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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That "all they want, man, is they own misery. Ax em to die for you and they yours for life.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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...and feel the oldest and most devastating pain there is: not the pain of childhood, but the remembrance of it.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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We was girls together
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Dying was OK because it was sleep and there wasn't no gray ball in death, was there? Was there? She would have to ask somebody about that, somebody she could confide in, and who knew a lot of things, like Sula, for Sula would know or if she didn't she would say something funny that would make it all right. Ooo no, not Sula. Here she was in the midst of it, hating it, scared of it, and again she thought of Sula as though they were still friends and talked things over. That was too much. To lose Jude and not have Sula to talk to about it because it was Sula that he had left her for. Now her thighs were really empty. And it was then that what those women said about never looking at another man made some sense to her, for the real point, the heart of what they said, was the word looked. Not to promise never to make love to another man, not to refuse to marry another man, but to promise and know that she could never afford to look again, to see and accept the way in which their heads cut the air or see moons or tree limbs framed by their necks and shoulders... never to look, for now she could not risk looking - and anyway, so what? For now her thighs were truly empty and dead too and it was Sula who had taken the life from them and Jude who smashed her heart and the both of them who left her with no thighs and no heart just her brain raveling away.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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So he had said "always", so she would not have to be afraid of the changeβ€”the falling away of skin, the drip and slide of blood, and the exposure of bones underneath. He had said "always" to convince her, assure her, of permanency.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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She waiting impatiently for him to turn away and settle into a wet skim of satisfaction and light disgust, leaving her to the postcoital privateness in which she met herself, welcomed herself, and joined herself in matchless harmony.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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But they had been down on all fours naked, not touching except their lips right down there on the floor where the tie is pointing to, on all fours like (uh huh, go on, say it) like dogs. Nibbling at each other, not even touching, not even looking at each other, just their lips, and when I opened the door they didn't even look for a minute and I thought the reason they are not looking up is because they are not doing that. So it's all right. I am just standing here. They are not doing that. I am just standing here and seeing it, but they are not really doing it. But then they did look up. Or you did. You did, Jude. ... And I did not know how to move my feet or fix my eyes or what. I just stood there seeing it and smiling, because maybe there was some explanation, something important that I did not know about that would have made it all right. I waited for Sula to look up at me any minute and say one of those lovely college words like aesthetic or rapport, which I never understood but which I loved because they sounded so comfortable and firm. And finally you just got up and started putting clothes on and your privates were hanging down, so soft, and you buckled your pants but forgot to button the fly and she was sitting on the bed not even bothering to put on her clothes because actually she didn't need to because somehow she didn't look naked to me, only you did. Her chin was in her hand and she sat like a visitor from out of town waiting for the hosts to get some quarreling done and over with so the card game could continue and me wanting her to leave so I could tell you privately that you had forgotten to button your fly because I didn't want to say it in front of her, Jude. And even when you began to talk, I couldn't hear because I was worried about you not knowing that your fly was open ... Remember how big that bedroom was, Jude? How when we moved here we said, Well, at least we got us a real big bedroom, but it was small then, Jude, and so shambly and maybe it was that way all along but it would have been better if I had gotten all the dust out from under the bed because I was ashamed of it in that small room. And you walked past me saying, "I'll be back for my things." And you did but you left your tie.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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It was poisonous, unnatural to let the dead go with a mere whimpering, a slight murmur, a rose bouquet of good taste. Good taste was out of place in the company of death, death itself was the essence of bad taste. And there must be much rage and saliva in its presence. The body must move and throw itself about, the eyes must roll, the hands should have no peace, and the throat should release all the yearning, despair and outrage that accompany the stupidity of loss.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Too Loud a Solitude, by Bohumil Hrabel Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson Sula, by Toni Morrison The Shadow-Line, by Joseph Conrad The All of It, by Jeannette Haine Winter in the Blood, by James Welch Swimmer in the Secret Sea, by William Kotzwinkle The Blue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald First Love, by Ivan Turgenev Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf Waiting for the Barbarians, by J. M. Coetzee Fire on the Mountain, by Anita Desai Sailboat Table (table by Quint Hankle) The Voyage of the Narwhal, by Andrea Barrett Complete Stories, by Clarice Lispector Boy Kings of Texas, by Domingo Martinez The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James There There, by Tommy Orange Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine Underland, by Robert Macfarlane The Undocumented Americans, by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio Deacon King Kong, by James McBride The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett Will and Testament, by Vigdis Hjorth Every Man Dies Alone, by Hans Fallada
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Louise Erdrich (The Sentence)
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Sula was smiling. β€œI mean, I don’t know what the fuss is about. I mean, everything in the world loves you. White men love you. They spend so much time worrying about your penis they forget their own. The only thing they want to do is cut off a nigger’s privates. And if that ain’t love and respect I don’t know what is. And white women? They chase you all to every corner of the earth, feel for you under every bed. I knew a white woman wouldn’t leave the house after 6 o’clock for fear one of you would snatch her. Now ain’t that love? They think rape soon’s they see you, and if they don’t get the rape they looking for, they scream it anyway just so the search won’t be in vain. Colored women worry themselves into bad health just trying to hang on to your cuffs. Even little childrenβ€”white and black, boys and girlsβ€”spend all their childhood eating their hearts out ’cause they think you don’t love them. And if that ain’t enough, you love yourselves. Nothing in this world loves a black man more than another black man. You hear of solitary white men, but niggers? Can’t stay away from one another a whole day. So. It looks to me like you the envy of the world.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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The narrower their lives, the wider their hips. Those with husbands had folded themselves into starched coffins, their sides bursting with other people’s skinned dreams and bony regrets. Those without men were like sour-tipped needles featuring one constant empty eye. Those with men had had the sweetness sucked from their breath by ovens and steam kettles. Their children were like distant but exposed wounds whose aches were no less intimate because separate from their flesh. They had looked at the world and back at their children, back at the world and back again at their children, and Sula knew that one clear young eye was all that kept the knife away from the throat’s curve
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Totally Biased List of Tookie’s Favorite Books Ghost-Managing Book List The Uninvited Guests, by Sadie Jones Ceremonies of the Damned, by Adrian C. Louis Moon of the Crusted Snow, by Waubgeshig Rice Father of Lies, by Brian Evenson The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead Asleep, by Banana Yoshimoto The Hatak Witches, by Devon A. Mihesuah Beloved, by Toni Morrison The Through, by A. Rafael Johnson Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders Savage Conversations, by LeAnne Howe The Regeneration Trilogy, by Pat Barker Exit Ghost, by Philip Roth Songs for Discharming, by Denise Sweet Hiroshima Bugi: Atomu 57, by Gerald Vizenor Short Perfect Novels Too Loud a Solitude, by Bohumil Hrabel Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson Sula, by Toni Morrison The Shadow-Line, by Joseph Conrad The All of It, by Jeannette Haine Winter in the Blood, by James Welch Swimmer in the Secret Sea, by William Kotzwinkle The Blue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald First Love, by Ivan Turgenev Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf Waiting for the Barbarians, by J. M. Coetzee Fire on the Mountain, by Anita Desai
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Louise Erdrich (The Sentence)
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Late that night after the fire was made, the cold supper eaten, the surface dust removed, Nel lay in bed thinking of her trip. [...] It had been an exhilarating trip but a fearful one. She had been frightened of the soldiers' eyes on the train, the black wreath on the door, the custard pudding she believed lurked under her mother's heavy dress, the feel of unknown streets and unknown people. But she had gone on a real trip, and now she was different. She got out of bed and lit the lamp to look in the mirror. There was her face, plain brown eyes, three braids and the nose her mother hated. She looked for a long time and suddenly a shiver ran through her. "I'm me," she whispered. "Me" Nel didn't know quite what she meant, but on the other hand she knew exactly what she meant. "I'm me. I'm not their daughter. I'm not Nel. I'm me. Me." Every time she said the word me there was a gathering in her like power, like joy, like fear. Back in bed with her discovery, she stared out the window at the dark leaves of the horse chestnut. "Me," she murmured. And then, sinking deeper into the quilts, "I want... I want to be... wonderful. Oh, Jesus, make me wonderful.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Originally, Sula opened with β€˜Except for World War II, nothing interfered with National Suicide Day.’ With some encouragement I recognized that sentence as a false beginning.” Falseness, in this case, meant abrupt. There was no lobby, as it were, where the reader could be situated before being introduced to the goings-on of the characters.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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My preference was the demolition of the lobby altogether. [Of all of my books], only Sula has this β€˜entrance.’ The others refuse the β€˜presentation,’ refuse the seductive safe harbor; the line of demarcation between…them and us. Refuse, in effect, to cater to the diminished expectations of the reader, or his or her alarm heightened by the emotional luggage one carries into the black-topic text….
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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Shadrack began a struggle that was to last for twelve days, a struggle to order and focus experience. It had to do with making a place for fear as a way of controlling it.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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I wanted to redirect, reinvent the political, cultural, and artistic judgments saved for African American writers.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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populated the hills above it, taking small consolation in the fact that every day
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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What was taken by outsiders to be slackness, slovenliness or even generosity was in fact a full recognition of the legitimacy of forces other than good ones. They did not believe doctors could heal-- for them, none ever had done so. They did not believe death was accidental-- life might be, but death was deliberate. They did not believe Nature was ever askew-- only inconvenient. Plague and drought were as 'natural' as springtime. If milk could curdle, God knows robins could fall. The purpose of evil was to survive it and they determined (without ever knowing they had made up their minds to do it) to survive floods, white people, tuberculosis, famine and ignorance. They knew anger well but not despair, and they didn't stone sinners for the same reason they didn't commit suicide-- it was beneath them.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)
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It had to do with making a place for fear as a way of controlling it. He knew the smell of death and was terrified of it, for he could not anticipate it. It was not death or dying that frightened him, but the unexpectedness of both. In sorting it all out, he hit on the notion that if one day a year were devoted to it, everybody could get it out of the way and the rest of the year would be safe and free. In this manner he instituted National Suicide Day. On the third day of the new year, he walked through the Bottom down Carpenter’s Road with a cowbell and a hangman’s rope calling the people together. Telling them that this was their only chance to kill themselves or each other.
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Toni Morrison (Sula)