Chicken little’s death
We are in 1922 and Sula and Nel are 12 years old. Sula overhears a conversation between her mother and her friends. She learns that Hannah couldn’t love Sula. So Sula and Nel run away and arrive near a river.
The two girls metaphorically explore their inner kindly of early adolescent sexuality by stripping twigs off the bark of a tree, and then rhythmically digging into the earth with them to create wide, deep holes, which they fill with collected debris and then cover with dirt. Morrison writes "grave" which is an anticipation. Immediately following this scene, a young black boy named Chicken Little joins the girls, and Nel watches as Sula playfully swings Chicken Little around in a wide circle until her hands slip, letting the boy’s small body sail trough the air and into the river. Nel like the reader is only spectator. Chicken little disappears under the water and drowns. The death is not mentioned. It recalls Plum's death. It is for the reader to do it and to make his own conclusion, to understand because it is only written "sank". It happened in a split second. Sula had no time to realize what happened. She was taken by surprise. She had shown him the river when they were upon the tree, it is an anticipation. Then Nel remains cool and collected, stating that no one saw what happened. She is more preoccupied by the witness than the death’s child. They never tell anyone about the accident. Although Sula and Nel’s actions following Chicken Little’s death may seem reprehensible, it is necessary to remember that they are still children. They did not intend to harm the boy. They were too afraid to tell anyone about the accident for fear they might be blamed for intending to kill him or deliberately bullying him.
Ironically, Nel, the more mannered of the two girls because of her strict upbringing, was the first to harass Chicken Little, and Sula was the one who attempted to protect him by telling Nel to leave him alone. Sula defends him when Nel teases him. Here, Morrison presents the young girls behaving almost whimsically because the incident seems on the surface not to have affected them much, but later chapters reveal that his death had a profound influence on them. Instinctively, they know it is possible that society will misunderstand the incident and blame them for something they didn’t really do. Twice after Chicken Little drowns, Morrison writes that there is now "something newly missing" in the girls. Although Morrison never states directly what this "something" is, we come to understand that it is Sula and Nel’s innocence, their youthful feelings of this invincibility. His sudden death shows Sula and Nel how easy it is to die. They are no longer protected by a childish sense of their own immortality. Sula and Nel’s complicity in Chicken Little’s death greatly shakes their childhood innocence. It is the moment when they are the closest. They have a common secret. When Chicken Little climbs the tree, it underlines the fact that Sula is linked with trees. Indeed, at the end of the novel, when Nel is on Sula's grave, and says "girl, girl, girl", there's a tree and its leaves cat as if it understodd what she was saying, it goes round and round at the same rythm as Nel's sentence.
Later in the novel, we learn that Nel was thrilled when she saw Chicken Little sailing through the air. She remained calm while Sula became distraught. Sula will cry during the funeral whereas Nel who knew she had "done nothing ". It is likely that she feels guilty about her lack of reaction. She understands she is like her mother, almost selfish.