I finished Sula, by Toni Morrison today. I wanted to share a passage, with you, blog reader, because it was one of those passages in a book that takes one's breath away because... well, the because is always the tricky part isn't it? This passage from Sula, a small paragraph near the end of the novel, took my breath away. A rare but welcomed experience. There is something so surreal about the connection a reader has with the fictional characters in their lives. I find it often in novels, but it happens in film and in television as well. I get so wrapped up in what is happening, the story and these people, or this person, who is not real. FICTION. And yet for some reason my emotional center cannot draw a line between the real and the fiction. Its such a weird thing, isn't it? I can single out some of the times that it has really hit me- a few times in the Dark Tower, book four The Wizard and Glass, and book seven The Dark Tower; as a kid or teen when reading a novel by S.E. Hinton called That Was Then, This Is Now, and somewhere in my hazy love of Firefly and Serenity. So many times this connection gets brought to life through death, ironically, but it's not always that way. Anyway I have gone completely off topic. Back to my paragraph from Sula.
I must preface this by saying that it is a pretty major spoiler, major plot point reveal, so if you haven't read it and are thinking you will, maybe you aught to pass by. If you are thinking, I don't really care, then read on. It doesn't way as heavily out of context, but it is still powerful.
From Sula, the end of the chapter titled 1940:
While in this state of weary anticipation, she noticed that she was not breathing, that her heart had stopped completely. A crease of fear touched her breast, for any second there was sure to be a violent explosion in her brain, a gasping for breath. Then she realized, or rather she sensed, that there was not going to be any pain. She was not breathing because she didn't have to. Her body did not need oxygen. She was dead. Sula felt her face smiling. "Well, I'll be damned," she thought, "it didn't even hurt. Wait'll I tell Nel."
This is an almost lovely picture of death. I read Stephen King, I watch a lot of horror films, and death is never portrayed in a pleasant or even non-terrible way in those genres, maybe there is some exceptions in some of King's work, but I don't want to get into that right now. Maybe it is that there is more death in those genres, by the very nature of them, that makes me use them as a comparison, but I feel that I never get any, and I don't want to say pleasant because I'm not really certain that is the word I'm even looking for here, but I like this passage of death, because it is not terrifying. And that is refreshing to me, being a fearful person of the big END. I really want to feel that it's not terror-full, which is probably why I should stop watching horror movies... at any rate, I just wanted to put this out there. Think of it what you will.