Social Identity Theory in Toni Morrison’s Sula

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor, English Language and Literature Department, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.

2 M.A., English Language and Literature, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


The concept of identity and its formation is one of the most basic notions in the field of social psychology. Many psychologist and sociologists have presented their theories based on this concept and the psychosocial progress of its formation in social contexts. Henry Tajfel, a prominent social psychologist, in his Social Identity Theory has divided an individual’s identity into two parts: “personal identity” and “social identity”. He believes that social interactions and bonds affect identity and accentuate our membership in different groups, playing a role in shaping and reshaping our personality. Toni Morrison’s novel titled Sula (1973) is among the books depicting the process of identity formation in suppressive social contexts in a white dominated society. The novel traces the life and death of a young girl in a racist and sexist community and depicts the process of her individuation and the forms of her personal and social identity construction under the influence of her life events and experiences as an African American female. The present paper attempts to probe into the identity formation of Sula, the protagonist who bears the title of the novel and lives in a repressive social and cultural context.


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