Positive Liberty and Black Female Subjectivity in Toni Morrison’s Sula

Najd F. Alfaqir


The essay investigates the representation of female subjectivity that is disturbed by issues of race, gender, and community in Toni Morrison’s novel, Sula. In my analysis, I bring to bear both the works of postmodernist theory and contemporary Feminist aesthetics in order to strengthen female subjectivity against the closed systems in which black women are objectified and separated from the autonomous existence they deserve. My representation of postmodernism is inspired by Linda Hucheon’s theory of Postmodernism in A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction. Her suggestion that postmodernism is a contradictory concept that simultaneously acknowledges and disregards any concept offers new possibilities; it blurs the lines that humans create between self/other and centered/decentered, undermining socially constructed notions of good and bad. As I closely examine the character of Sula, who embodies such postmodern concept, I attempt to rethink her position as marginalized and evil to think about her character as a quest to rise above the limitations resulting from the closed systems in which black women are objectified. In my conclusion, I suggest that Sula’s presence in the novel as radical on the surface is positive, for she transforms her otherness into a space from which female autonomy and liberty emerge. Throughout Sula, Morrison explores spaces of existence beyond constructed social conventions towards female individuality and Sula epitomizes that in her positive liberty.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/ijsss.v6i6.3316


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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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