The Significance of the Character Shadrack in the Novel Sula by Toni Morrison

1546 words 7 pages
The Significance of The Character Shadrack in The Novel Sula By Toni Morrison The book Sula by Toni Morrison is regarded as one of Morrison’s best work because of the content and structure of the book. Shadrack is an important character in the novel although his appearance in the plot is fairly brief. His significance in the novel stems from the fact that he represents one of the recurring themes of the novel, which is the need for order. Since the need to order and focus experience is an important theme, the character Shadrack illustrates the terror of chaos through his self-proclaimed day “National Suicide Day” in his small town, which portrays the importance of fear, chaos, and death in the book Sula by Toni Morrison. Shadrack, one …show more content…

The fact that death can happen anytime seems unfair and unbearable to him. For Shadrack, this "victory" over death is as reassuring as a straight jacket. This is so because to know that he can control his own final destiny makes Shadrack feel so much better. Despite the fact that Shadrack is no longer in combat, he is still overwhelmed by visions in which he sees the horrors of war, and he is especially stunned by the brutal suddenness of death in the midst of battle. In order to counter this specter of unexpectedness, he thinks that if only an entire day could be set aside yearly. A day when people could escape “the smell of death” (Sula 16) and the fear of it by committing suicide then during the rest of the year people wouldn’t have to fear death and cower from it. Giving death its own day would compartmentalize it the same way that the food on Shadrack’s hospital tray is compartmentalized. On the food tray, there is no chaos: Everything is orderly and within borders. The rice doesn’t touch the meat, and the meat doesn’t touch the stewed tomatoes. The colors of the foods are distinct and do not mix together. Shadrack believes that people and things need boundaries to provide order in an otherwise disordered world. For example, although we generally associate straitjackets with insanity, when Shadrack is confined in one he feels secure and protected; he is “both relieved and grateful” (Sula 9) because he has a boundary around himself.