restricted access A "Headless Display": Sula, Soldiers, and Lynching

Even though no lynchings take place in Toni Morrison's Sula (1973), the novel borrows from and rearranges actions and objects typically found in lynching narratives. This article examines how Sula combines the lynching narrative's primary signifiers with the traumatic returns of African American soldiers from the battlefields of World War I. Using a historical materialist approach, the author argues that Sula's soldiers dramatize, sometimes directly, and sometimes abstractly, the psychological intensities and traumas specific to the public, black male body between the war years.