After briefly researching Toni Morrison it became clear to me that she artfully drew from her own experiences to write Sula. She was born Chloe Wofford in 1931. Her parents moved to Ohio to escape problems of racism. She was the second oldest of four children and her father had to work several jobs to support them. He told her folktales of the black community which influenced her story telling style and taught her about her strong African heritage.
This quote shows that early on Christianity worked it’s way into her everyday life. “People acutally quoted the bible to you– they had biblical phrases in regular conversation or they had lyrics– my mother sang like a dream… people used to come around to here her.”
Here’s a quote I found striking, from the New York Times: “When I was in first grade, nobody thought I was inferior. I was the only black in the class and the only child who could read” (One of her favorite authors was Jane Austen!) Morrison lived in an integrated neighborhood and did not become fully aware of racial prejudices until she was in her teens. Maybe this inspired the loss of childhood innocence and shock that Nel first felt when her mother was too weak to defy the racism expressed toward her on the train.
One last thing, Toni also divorced her husband regardless of the fact that she was pregnant with her second son. Maybe Morrison put some of herself into Eva in Sula-– with her sense of abandonment and hatred towards Boyboy.