Analysis of an excerpt from the chapter "1922" in Sula by Toni Morrison. The passage under study is situated just before Chicken Little's death; it is not an eventful passage but it offers an interesting description of Sula and Nel's new friendship, and as such it provides the reader with key information and important clues to understand the following episodes better.
[...] The men were looking at them, so the girls would be very careful, would pay attention to their way of moving forward. Then, the enumeration least sideways glance, the merest toe stub” shows Nel Wright and Sula Peace knew they had to be careful, because there were many men who “could pitch them into those creamy haunches spread wide”. They knew they were “pig’s they began to have sex-appeal. In fact, at this age, we begin to be interested in sensuality. The “ice-cream parlor” could be a glacier. [...]
[...] And how did they manage to maintain “tension and balance” ? They were together, next to each other. Finally, the hard reality is introduced by “daughters of distant mothers and incomprehensible fathers”. This is a common point, but so sad. Then, we know was the color of wet sandpaper just dark enough to escape the blows of the pitch-black truebloods and the contempt of old women That’s to say Nel would not have been protected at all if she had been less dark. [...]
[...] Of course, Nel Wright and Sula Peace came from two different worlds. Nel came from an orderly, tidy home, Sula, from disorder and chaos. Nel’s mother was custard-colored, Sula’s was sooty. Nel’s lighter skin was likened to wet sandpaper, Sula’s skin was heavy and brown. Nel seemed to be fragile, maybe because of her skin which cannot protect her from danger and many problems. It’s a proof that order does not work. Sula seemed to have quiet eyes, so she seemed to be relaxed, cool, peaceful (in a certain way her name (Peace) could confirm that). [...]
[...] The two girls had a deep understanding despite they different personalities. Friendship with Sula offered Nel a more positive perception of herself. Around Sula, Nel felt thoroughly accepted, protected, especially when the two girls walked the gauntlet of leering young and old black men whom they must pass by their way to the ice-cream parlor. They seemed mystically tied to each other’s thoughts and feelings. They shared everything, in particular delightful dreams. “They marched through the chocolate halls of Garfield Primary School out onto the playground” together, powerfully, they dreamt, they played on the swing, sharing smiles and words You There always were “some smiling sympathetic a kind of complicity rising each day and each time they dreamt. [...]