Toni Morrison's Sula develops out of and centers on images of violence and violation, proffering itself as a catalog of traumatic experiences, of literal and figurative deaths. Such traumas almost invariably register as watched, the novel thus functioning, by means of its characters, as an act of bearing witness. Inasmuch as the story Sula tells is framed by passages mourning the loss of the world the novel imagines, the narrative structurally articulates an absence. Together these elements—Sula's thematic preoccupation with witnessed dying and its insistence that the narrative mark loss—locate the novel's center of interest in grieving. Folding the history of loss it narrates within a recursive structure, Sula pitches itself against the conventional notion that mourning must be worked through: indeed, the novel implicitly argues for—and persistently works to effect—a sustaining of grief. To move beyond mourning in the context of continuing cultural fragility, the novel suggests, may well constitute a surrender to the processes of cultural absorption and dispersal Sula describes toward its conclusion.