When I was reading Sula, the name Chicken Little stuck out to me. You see, Toni Morrison has a tendency to use biblical names as some sort of clever parallel. Their names usually reveal something about their personality.
Now I’m actually PRETTY positive that Chicken Little is not in the Bible. However, it is a folk tale that many people know about.
There are many versions of this story but they are along the lines where a chicken named Chicken Little is hit in the head with an acorn and then proceeds to run around telling everyone that the sky is falling. There are many endings to the story, happy (where the chicken realizes his mistake) and sad ones (where he is eaten by a fox).
The moral of happy endings is to not be chicken and be courageous, or in sad endings, not to believe everything that you are told. The name Chicken Little is now used to describe people who are unreasonably afraid or try to incite unreasonable fear in others. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states the name Chicken Little to be “one who warns of or predicts calamity, especially without justification.”
So back to Sula, if you remember, Chicken Little was the little boy who was coaxed by Sula to climb a tree. He was very timid at first but then found it exhilarating. However, once he is back on the ground, Sula picks him up and swings him playfully. But tragedy strikes when he slips from her grasp and is flung into the river where he drowns.
Honestly, it was so hard for me to find a connection. It still is. I’m still trying to figure out why Toni Morrison would name him Chicken Little. Maybe I’m overanalyzing, but there must be a reason why. Maybe it’s because he was very timid at first to climb the tree but then found himself too stubborn to come back down like how Chicken Little in the story was too stubborn to admit that the sky was not falling?
Let me know!