This passage also shows Nel as having human, physical emotions.
Throughout the story thus far, Nel has been portrayed as perfect, stoic and unfeeling. I feel that this passage marks a shift in Nel’s character.
For example, in 1927, at Nel's wedding celebration, the old people dance with the young people, and the church women drink the spiked punch.
Nel's mother, the staid and conservative Helene Wright, is so calm and relaxed — from drinking — that she doesn't seem to mind the damage being done to her immaculate house by the revelers.
Good taste was out of place in the company of death, death itself was the essence of bad taste.
And there must be much rage and saliva in its presence.
A prevalent theme in Sula is the influence of family and friends on the characters.
The book focuses on two friends, Sula and Nel, but both have been shaped, and continue to be shaped, by their experiences with their families, particularly their mothers.
The first personal perspective Morrison narrates, however, is not the perspective of any character but instead an outsider's view of the Bottom.
Not really even personal, this perspective belongs to a seemingly generic "valley man." If a valley man happened to have business up in those hillscollecting rent or insurance paymentshe might see a dark woman in a flowered dress doing a bit of cakewalk, a bit of black bottom, a bit of "messing around" to the lively notes of a mouth organ.