Although the events and characters' reactions to them have their differences in the interest of plot variety, similarities between the cases far outweigh the differences.
Not only are the events that Nel and Crowe experience and their reactions to them similar, but also both characters have striking revelations at the end of their stories that suggest the importance of the events. In Nel's case, the remembering "the death of chicken little" allows her to "[reconfigure] a number of long-held memories" (Matus, 69). One of those memories, and probably the most poignant is that of Sula. After coming back to the Bottom, Nel is less than friendly with her former confidant. In fact, she joins the rest of the town in labeling Sula and her wild ways as evil, a predicament that helps unite the town. Although Nel and manage a brief reconciliation before Sula's death, the force of the reconciliation does not occur until after Nel is reminded of Chicken Little's death. Faced with the memory of the traumatic event, Nel treks to Sula's grave, realizing that she misses her friend despite the lifestyle that Sula lived. Thus, through the memory of the traumatic event, Nel is able to experience the stark realization that she misses Sula and could have accepted her lifestyle, regardless of their differences.
Like Nel, Crowe experiences a similarly shocking revelation in regard to his traumatic event in "The Sixth Sense." After aiding Cole in overcoming his fear of helping the ghosts he sees, Crowe realizes that he is dead himself, having been killed by Vincent during the traumatic event that opened the movie. Fueled this knowledge and his success with helping Cole overcome his own fears and help his ghosts, the former psychologist is able to bid farewell to his wife and move on. Though Crowe's realization is a bit different than Nel's, stemming from both is aid to Cole and the traumatic encounter with Vincent, the implications of the realization suggest that not only has Crowe accepted his situation, but also he has learned the universal truth that one always has a chance to make up for the actions that cause one guilty feelings in life. For Crowe, those guilty feelings were aroused because of his inability to help Vincent and the time that was not spent with his wife. Because of his realization, Crowe is able to rectify both of these sources of guilt by helping Cole and reassuring his wife as she sleeps.
Thus, readers of Sula and viewers of "The Sixth Sense" can determine that the two works of fiction share many similarities. Not only are the characters of Nel and Crowe similar, but also similar are the traumatic events that they experience. At the beginning of both stories, both experience a traumatic event involving a child, guilt, and death that haunts them for the rest of their days. Both attempt to deal with the event by pushing away a loved one, and both end their stories with a dramatic realization brought on by the event. Because both Morrison and Shyamalan ethnic writers, the similarities between the novel and the film can be used to make a series of inferences about the themes and works of ethnic writers.
For instance, that both used the subject of haunting is significant. Although Morrison's treatment of the theme of haunting was in a more psychological vein, while Shyamalan's was more traditionally supernatural, both authors used the subject of haunting to convey the importance of the past. For both Nell and Crowe, the intrusion of the past was almost more predominant in their lives than the treatment of the present. Many scholars have suggested that this theme is popular not only for ethnic writers, but also for modern and contemporary writers, but ethnic writer's use of the technique has a variety of important explanations. The use of the presence of the past, or a haunting, conveys the importance of the past and its inability to ever be completely forgotten. Both Morrison and Shyamalan suggest this through different venues. As an author, Morrison completes this theme through constant references to the past and a storyline that follows the main character as she grows, but still focuses on the past as if it were occurring. Shyamalan's ability to use film treats the subject in a different way. By using flashbacks and nonlinear sequencing, the filmmaker suggests that the past is always with the audience, just as it is always with Crowe. Because ethnic writers must often deal with a past that is filled with hardships and significant moments, the importance of this theme in ethnic literature has been and should continue to be conveyed.
Similarly, both authors use friction between characters in order to suggest greater social truths. For Morrison, this occurs through the relationship between Nel and Sula. Once strong, the relationship is broken simply because of Sula's decision to live a different lifestyle than Nel chooses to use. Because the community in which they live is so divided, the presence of s scapegoat like Sula is actually helpful, as community members blame all of the Bottom's problems on the wild Sula. With her realization at the end of the novel, however, Nel dispels this practice by honoring Sula's memory. Although the town may not be able to operate as harmoniously, Nel's acceptance of Sula at the very end of the novel suggests that the main character accepts that one cannot reject another based on lifestyle differences and that acceptance is an important social value in this ethnic society as well as everywhere.
In "The Sixth Sense" the importance of communication and living life abundantly is a social norm that is similarly suggested by Crowe's interactions with his wife.
The traumatic event that occurs at the beginning of the movie succeeds in driving the two of them apart too, but after Crowe realizes he is dead, he comforts his wife, reassuring her that she was first for him. Although this establishes hope, that one can always make up for the mistakes that one has made in his or her life, it is also a bittersweet ending. Although Crowe can reassure his wife, he can no longer be with her, suggesting that his confession would have been better off as a change in his actions when he was alive. Through this scene at the end of the novel, the audience is called to action, urged to live every day as if it were their last.
In both Sula and "The Sixth Sense," ethnic writers Toni Morrison and M. Night Shymalan present the story of a haunting and how that haunting changed the world both personally and socially for two main characters. By comparing the film and the novel, readers and viewers can see the importance of hauntings and ghosts in ethnic literature and the themes that they most often suggest.
Matus, Jill. Toni Morrison: Contemporary World Writers. New York: Manchester