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Abstract

Critics of Sula frequently comment on the pervasive presence of death, the uses of a particular cultural and historical background, the split or doubled protagonist (Sula/Nel), and the attention to chronology in the novel. However, as far as I am aware, no one has presented a reading of Sula that explores the interrelatedness of these elements; yet it is the connections among them that most usefully reveal the novel's overall thematic patterns. Sula can be, and has been, read as, among other things, a fable, a lesbian novel, a black female bildungsroman, a novel of heroic questing, and an historical novel that captures a crucial change in black patterns of living;1 all these modes are certainly discernable in the text. One approach that has not been taken is to read Sula as a war novel or, more precisely, as an anti-war novel.

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