Sula, Analysis

3. Jude was among the many young black men of The Bottom who yearned for validation.   During that time period, the higher paying jobs, such as construction of the New River Road, were reserved for whites.   In The Bottom, Jude was desired by the young women, and admired by the men.   But in the Valley of Medallion, he was just another young black man who would be denied a higher paying job.   The job he worked, a waiter at the local hotel, was not physically challenging.   It did not cement his masculinity like building that tunnel could. Being a waiter at the hotel would not give him an injury that he could be proud of.   It did not allow him to toil long hours, and feel as if he had done “work.” Most of all, it would not leave behind a useful, tangible, long lasting legacy as building a tunnel would leave..or that of being married.
So, in his “determination to take on a man’s role”, Jude decides to marry.   He has his pick among the women in the town, but he chooses Nel, who is kind, and not too eager to marry.   This makes Jude feel as if something belongs to him, as if it were something that he built, because he would not have the opportunity to build that tunnel.   The decision to marry was “his conquest” when it came to Nel.   Most importantly, she actually cares about him, and is not just attempting to quell her own desire for marriage.   She wants to fix his pain of emasculation.
This is still common in the black community.   In my experience, my mother’s experience, my grandmother’s experience, and my great-grandmother’s experience, either divorced, unmarried, or abandoned black women, we often juggle the tasks of being strong and being feminine.   Marriage is a dream for us black women.   In my personal experience, my femininity is sometimes affected. It has to be turned on and off.
Because of institutionalized racism such as high incarceration rates, high death rates, disproportionate educational disparities between black men and women, etc., black men tend to be...