Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Twenty-four years later, in 1965, The Bottom is vastly different. Nel no longer knows many people; the community has changed so much that neighbors hardly speak to one another. A member of an organization that visits old people in rest homes, Nel one day finds Eva, whom she has not seen in thirty years. Eva is a little out of her mind, and only sometimes seems to know who Nel is. In a moment of lucidity, she asks Nel how and why she killed that little boy many years ago. Nel is shocked at the question and claims that Sula was responsible for the death. First, Eva says that there is no difference between Sula and Nel; then she suggests to Nel that watching is the same as doing. Nel says she only "saw" what happened. She leaves, very upset.
Walking back home quickly, Nel sees the cemetery and stops to look at all the graves of the Peace family, including the one belonging to Sula. She remembers how everyone, including herself, treated Sula so badly after her return to The Bottom. Maybe Sula had been right; perhaps Eva was mean, and the townspeople were small-minded. Maybe she herself is not as good as she judges herself to be. Nel thinks about the death of Chicken Little and remembers that it felt good to watch him drown. She realizes now that her heart was evil, even though she looked innocent. She then thinks about poor Sula, who had been so frightened about the death. Although Sula had been the one to throw the boy into the water, Chicken Little's death was totally unintentional. Sula should not have felt so guilty, and Nel should have told her so.