hat meanings can be attributed to the literary accomplishments of American author Toni Morrison? How does Morrison use history to portray her stories and her characters? How did Morrison become known as one of the premier African-American authors in America? This paper delves into those issues and others relevant to the writing of Toni Morrison.
hat meanings are attributed to the works of Toni Morrison?
Critic Marilyn Sanders Mobley -- in her book Folk Roots and Mythic ings in Sarah Orne Jewett and Toni Morrison: The Cultural Function of Narrative -- writes that Morrison is a "redemptive scribe" (Mobley, 1991, p. 10). One of Morrison's missions is to "correct a cultural misimpression," Mobley explains. She references Morrison's explanation of the need for a writer to correct misimpressions about African-Americans; "Critics generally don't associate black people with ideas. They see marginal people…" and figure that when they read about…… [Read More]
Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Beloved (Morrison), based loosely on a real life experience of a Cincinnati area former slave, mirrors her own journey from her early life living in a segregated South to her moving to a more racially friendly Lorain, Ohio (Reinhardt). Her life in Lorain was free of many of the prejudices that would have been present if she had remained in the South but she was still subject to hearing her older relatives relate stories of their prior Southern lives. These memories, like the memories of her characters in Beloved, form the background of many of Morrison's novels.
In Beloved, Morrison tells the story of emancipated woman slave named Sethe who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio after having escaped from slavery in Kentucky a few years following the Civil ar. The joys of her escape, however, are short-lived as she soon discovers that her former owner…… [Read More]
For example, Dorcas' father was killed in East St. Louis during the riots of 1917. He was pulled from a streetcar and beaten to death. Her mother died that same day when her apartment building was torched by protestors. Morrison notes that Dorcas, just a child at the time, went to "two funerals in five days, and never said a word (Morrison, 57)." When Violet seeks out solstice with Dorcas' aunt Alice, Alice points out to her that she earned the nickname "Violent" for slashing Dorcas' face. Alice said that she never picked up a knife, "Even when my husband ran off I never did that. And you. You didn't even have a worthy enemy. Somebody worth killing. You picked up a knife to insult a dead girl (Morrison, 85)." But after that Alice thinks back to how she felt when her husband abandoned her and how she too wanted…… [Read More]
He has not previously shown any great desire or motivation to seek out on his own the reasons for who he is, why he is here, and what came before him.
In the process of his discoveries, Milkman also learns that his grandfather, Macon Dead, after he was killed, had his shallow grave dug up and had his body dumped into Hunters Cove. That kind of information can be very disturbing, and it was. But meanwhile, Milkman shows his naivete about race relations in America -- and the history of bigotry and Jim Crow dynamics that were part of America prior to his maturation -- in the dialogue that follows (Morrison, pp. 231-232). "Did anybody ever catch the men who did it -- who killed him?" Milkman asked Reverend Cooper in the parsonage. "Catch?" The reverend asked, "his face full of wonder…Didn't have to catch 'em. They never went nowhere."…… [Read More]
It gave her otherwise plain face a broken excitement and blue- blade threat like the keloid scar of the razored man who sometimes played checkers with her grandmother." (52-53)
This birthmark is a mark of evil for some critics while others associate it with Sula's sensuality. But the fact remains that such a mark combined with a disturbingly defiant behavior turned Sula into a dark figure, not worthy of reader's compassion. It is felt that this inscription suggested that there was something menacing about her as Mae G. Henderson comments: "[Sula's birthmark] is a mark of nativity -- a biological rather than cultural inscription, appropriate in this instance because it functions to mark her as a 'naturally' inferior female within the black community" (27).
Where evil is concerned, Sula shares some traits with Cain. Cain was beaten as Genesis informs and he lived with a blackened face. There is some…… [Read More]
Toni Morrison's 'Cinderella's stepsisters', was actually a speech given by her at Bernard College. The occasion was chosen carefully as the speech could be most effective in this setting. In this essay, Morrison, highlights the similarities between Cinderella's stepsisters and modern, educated young women of today. Discarding all generally accepted notions about the stepsisters, the author explains that stepsisters were "not ugly, clumsy, stupid girls with outsized feet" (590) instead, they resembled modern powerful women of today and could be accurately described as, "beautiful, elegant, women of status" (590). Morrison believes that with women emerging as a powerful force in the world today, misuse of power is an imminent possibility. This, she felt, could destroy self-esteem of their underprivileged and less accomplished peers. The author further elaborates on the problem saying that misuse of power by one group often results in destruction of self-esteem of the other…… [Read More]
From girlhood," Sula shows a natural gift for daring, Lorie atkins Fulton writes in African-American Review (Fulton, 2006). Sula in fact persuades Nel to join up with her in order to confront the bullies on Carpenter's Road; and when Sula shows the guts to pull her grandma's paring knife from her pocket and slice a piece of her finger off, the boys star "open-mouthed at the wound" (Morrison 54).
If I can do that to myself, what you suppose I'll do to you?" (54-55) Sula asks the shocked bullies. Nel is impressed, the boys back off, and a feminine-strengthening act by Sula helps build an even stronger friendship between Sula and Nel. On page 58 of the book, an important passage leaves alert readers with memorable imagery - for some it relates back to their youth, and for others it builds up something that was perhaps left out of their…… [Read More]
There many instances in the book to remind the reader of the non-human ways those slaves were treated. There is a passage in which a slave does not have any name other than the name that was written on the bill of sale when she was purchased. When finally asked what she calls herself her answer is chilling: "Nothing.... I don't call myself nothing" (142) (Malmgren, 1995).
The book belies the truth of human nature by providing what can happen when a dead child becomes non-human as well as when the institution of slavery becomes non-human. The use of a ghost provides Morrison with the vehicle to introduce racism and slavery as they are interspersed in society today.
Toni Morrison provides a strong illumination of the current memories and pain embedded into American society with regard to racism and slavery. Just as the ghost in Beloved was there, without…… [Read More]
Toni Morrison's Beloved
Through the exquisitely penned prose and evocative storytelling weaved within her novel Beloved, author Toni Morrison manages to depict the spiritual damage inflicted on African-Americans throughout the darkest period in our nation's history. ather than confine her penetrating perceptive abilities as a writer to the external conditions of slavery, Morrison delves deeply into personal experience and cultural heritage to expose the insidious internal consequences of human bondage on the individuals involved. The tale of escaped slaves Sethe and Denver, a mother and daughter fiercely devoted to one another, and the spiritual upheaval within their Cincinnati home on 124 Bluestone oad, portrays the suffering of an entire people through the prism of a single family struggling to cope with unspeakable tragedy. By beginning the novel with the simple declaration that "124 was haunted. Full of baby's venom" (1987, pp.1). Morrison immediately establishes her thematic purpose, juxtaposing youthful rage…… [Read More]
He is identified as follows in the story: "...he had not so much moved through his life as wandered through it, his spirit like a dazed body bumping into furniture and corners. He had always been a fearful father..." This depiction of Matt shows how his love for his family has become a weakness for him, for there is always a fear in him that he will fail as a father to his children and husband to his wife. However, this characterization of Matt changed when Strout, Frank's killer, was released from imprisonment. Matt takes revenge on his own hands, for he believes that he does not deserve the freedom that he got after killing his son. Thus, he now becomes an individual determined to avenge his son, and does so by killing Strout. Matt's characterization in "Killings" illustrates how character transition is achieved by bringing strength to his personality…… [Read More]
This shows how violence against women and rape are trivialized. It does not seem that rape and violence are accepted, but it does seem like they are tolerated. Further information is provided when Christine is described investigating why no action has been taken. The Comrade's account of the rape is described as follows, it wasn't his fault the girl was all over him braless sitting sloppy he'd even patted her behind to alert her to his interest she giggled instead of breaking his jaw and asked him if he wanted a beer (Morrison 156).
This description paints a picture of a naive girl being taken advantage of and then being blamed for the events. It is important to note that this description suggests that the girl was the one who should have stopped the rape from taking place by becoming violent. In reality, it seems that the man who is…… [Read More]
On the evening of her first menstruation, for example, she asks, 'How do you do that? I mean, how do you get somebody to love you.' And, after a visit to Marie, Poland, and China, Pecola ponders, 'hat did love feel like?... How do grownups act when they love each other? Eat fish together?' " (Bloom, 26)
The question of how to get somebody to love you is significant for the understanding of the loveless world which Pecola inhabits. In her world self-love, love of the others, and being loved by the others are all missing. As M. Miner notices, the image Pecola could have had of love is even more shattered when her own father rapes her, an act which to her can only mean that, for her, love can only be dirty and ugly, just like she feels about herself:
hen Cholly rapes his daughter, he commits a…… [Read More]
That shows the same thing, that Morrison is showing racism even exists in the black community. This book shows that white society controls everything, from how people feel about each other to how they see themselves and what they think is beautiful. Pecola is black, but she wants to be white, and that means she does not understand who she really is and why it is not bad to be black.
Pecola becomes so desperate for blue eyes that she goes to a crazy old black man who thinks he has the power of God, and asks him for blue eyes. It is one of the most touching and sad parts of the book. Morrison writes,
Here was an ugly little girl asking for beauty. A surge of love and understanding swept through him, but was quickly replaced by anger. Anger that he was powerless to help her. Of all…… [Read More]
I missed the people altogether."(Morrison, 167) the narrator perceives his or her flaws in many other aspects, and realizes that the characters and the story have escaped the control of the omniscient fiction: "I was sure one would kill the other...I was so sure it would happen. That the past was an abused record with no choice but to repeat itself... I was so sure, and they danced and walked all over me. Busy, they were, busy being original, complicated, changeable -- human, I guess you'd say, while I was the predicable one." (Morrison, 220) Violet and Joe prove thus to have their own minds and act for themselves, without the narrator's knowledge. Thus, the story telling device employed here by Morrison conforms to the postmodernist belief that omniscience can not exist in a text, as the fiction itself is much more powerful than the author. It is impossible for…… [Read More]
Kids always promise to write, and rarely do in "real life," so why would they be any different in fiction? it's one of those polite customs to say you'll be sure to write. Roberta "promised to write every day" but wait, if she can't read how can she write? And as for Twyla, she would have drawn pictures (very child-like) and sent them to Roberta but Roberta hadn't given Twyla her address. Did Twyla ask for it? It sounds as though she didn't. So, as stated earlier, this story used very common themes of the fragility of "friendships"; like friends getting mad at each other, and when they part, they promise to write. "Her big serious-looking eyes - that's all I could catch when I tried to bring her to mind," Twyla said. That's it? Four months living in close quarters with a girl who was her friend, and that's…… [Read More]
Long hours she sat looking in the mirror, trying to discover the secret of the ugliness, the ugliness that made her ignored or despised at school, by teachers and classmates alike." pg. 45
Morrison does not explain what beauty should be associated with, but she clearly illustrates what it cannot be linked with. She wants readers to understand how psychologically damaging it can be for a person to be told repeatedly that she is ugly and hence not worth loving. In the Bluest eyes, the subject beauty has been discussed in-depth by studying it from the opposite angle. It is the ugliness of the child that leads to a tragic end and similarly this one factor is responsible for many problems in the novel. Colly, the father of Pecola is always physical abusive and it is hinted that his anger is rooted in his wife's ugliness. Even incest is shown…… [Read More]
Character and the Definition of Justice in Song of Solomon
In Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, there are great many characters each struggling to find a balance in life. From Milkman to Macon Dead II to Guitar to Ruth to Pilate and many others, there is a sense that these characters are one part hurting, one part strong, one part reluctant to fly, one part clinging to selfish desires, and one part searching for a way out. The acts of vengeance, revenge, and attempts to correct wrongs appear throughout the novel to show how the characters harbor grievances, how they seek to get back at perceived slights, and how they learn to redress mistakes made in the past. The main characters, Milkman and Pilate, make up the heart of the novel as each reflects the underlying theme of the novel—the need to be able to stand tall and fly. Yet,…… [Read More]
A black woman walking up to the counter at Macy's will be a customer, not an American-American customer; a Latino buying a car at a used car lot in Memphis won't be a Mexican-American he will be a customer. That's how it should be.
THREE: Why is the focus so different between male authors and female authors? For the same reason that men see the world from a very different lens than women see the world. Naomi Wolf has a very good perspective on why there is such a dramatic difference between what men write about and what women write about, and I agree with her wholeheartedly. There were archaic yet potent attitudes toward women a century ago, Wolf explains, in which "normal female activity, especially the kind that would lead women into power, was classified as ugly and sick." In fact, there were whispers that if a woman engaged…… [Read More]
he main character of the novel, Sula, has always been in search of true love. She tried to seek compassion and love from many different sources, but every time had to face disappointment and failure. She had relationships and contacts with many people but the outcome was always unpleasant.
In her childhood she came close to Nel and eventually they both became best friends. he family background of both girls was different and contrasting yet they shared a strong bond and relationship. hey were friends since childhood but the incident where Sula accidently killed Chicken Little (drowned in the river and the girls decided to keep quite) changed their whole lives. hey started to get apart after this incident, as the differences in their personalities became visible and evident. Both of the friends took different decisions about their future lives. After ten years when Sula came back to Bottom,…… [Read More]
Therefore we see through Nick's eyes the ways and lifestyle not only of Tom, Daisy, Jordan and others, but also the mysterious, nouveau riche Gatsby, wealthy from bootlegging and other criminal activities. hen Gatsby seduces Daisy, she, too, is drawn into his orbit, which later results in Myrtle's and Gatsby's deaths. hen Tom learns Daisy is involved with Gatsby, he becomes furious. Gatsby is later killed by the husband of Myrtle, who erroneously believes Gatsby struck and killed Myrtle while driving (this was not Gatsby, but Daisy).
Reflecting on the decadence all around him Nick decides to head back to the Midwest, realizing Gatsby's love for Daisy had been not only illicit, but corrupted from the start, by Gatsby's shady past. Moreover, as Nick reflects near the end of the novel, the soul of the American Dream itself is now dead, having been replaced by pursuit of money.
In both…… [Read More]
The author uses this stereotyping to show how harmful it can be - black or white, or any other color for that matter. She shows that any stereotype is just a generalization and is not the truth, but people take stereotypes to be the truth, which gives the stereotype control over them. Pecola's idea that having blue eyes will make her beautiful eventually consumes her and ruins her life. Morrison writes of Pecola's mother, who instill the stereotypes of white American beauty in her daughter, "She was never able, after her education in the movies, to look at a face and not assign it some category in the scale of absolute beauty, and the scale was one she absorbed in full from the silver screen" (Morrison 95). Morrison seems to be saying that "buying in" to any stereotype and giving it control can ruin a life, and create discontent and…… [Read More]
ith real sense of self, she will have a skewed look at the world around her. In her eyes, she is empty, as is the world.
Nel is grounded but this does not mean she is complete. Sula is labeled a wild child because she is not conventional like those around her. She moves to get herself away from Bottom and has several casual affairs with men. hen she returns, the townspeople view her as wicked. Those in her town call her a "roach" (112) and "bitch" (112) and her death is a welcome relief. She has an affair with Nel's husband, which makes Nel look like nothing short of an angel in the novel. Sula's life was not nice and neat. Nel married and had children, which was something of a traditional lifestyle for a woman. In short, Nel conforms to what society expects of women. Sula decided not…… [Read More]
As a result, Hannah has "no experiential knowledge or maternal role model for this aspect of the mother-daughter bond" (233). Hannah is more concerned with being who she wants to be than being a loving, nurturing mother.
Eva is the grandmother from which these characteristics flow. She is the woman that is tough because she must be. She makes sacrifices for her children but she does not necessarily bend to the social codes that most women in her era do. Ray's evaluation of the generational tendency of inversion supports the notion that men are not necessarily helpful to women and, in some circumstances, are harmful. Ray states that Sula acquires the "realization that her mother and grandmother have not been supported by loving, caring husbands; rather they have had to fend for themselves and their children. Morrison here instead of sentimentalizing the Black oman's role as mother tries to probe…… [Read More]
The meaning for life has illusively evaded humans for centuries. Theories abound, yet the hunger remains as mankind seeks to identify a purpose for their existence. The question of our purpose is often unknowingly based on two other unanswered queries. While some seems to construct on a meaning of life from their accomplishments, basing personal value, purpose, meaning on what he or she builds to leave behind after his death is a huge assumption. Constructivists believe that because a reality outside of this life does not exist, the construction one's own personal reality, and meaning for life is the only example. This assumption is particularly American in understanding, having evolved out of the prosperity of the West in combination with the trend of distancing ourselves from religious traditions. However, if the discussion is the meaning of life, our conclusions must be more universally applicable than to a nation…… [Read More]
Toni Morrison's Beloved
This story works to capture the essence of slavery's aftermath for its characters. It tells a truth created in flashback and ghost story. It aims to create mysticism only memory can illustrate. "The novel is meant to give grief a body, to make it palpable" (Gates, 29). The characters are trapped in the present because they are imprisoned by the horrors of slavery. They are literally held hostage in their home, isolated from the outside world. In many ways Beloved represents a geographically realistic neo-slave narrative by presenting in flashback the experiences of Sethe. This story also has the fantastic element of a ghost who later becomes flesh and bone. The paragraphs below explore the characters memories and the magical realism of a ghost.
Memory affects the character of Sethe in a way that illustrates the pain and grief of her past enslavement. Sethe is living with…… [Read More]
Toni Morrsion Beloved
Is murder a better alternative than slavery for your children
Toni Morrison's novel "Beloved" presents readers with a terrifying account involving a mother having to choose whether to have her children become slaves or whether to have them dead. Torn between these two options, the central character in the novel, Sethe, makes a hasty choice and decides to kill her own daughter. The protagonist is obviously tormented by her past and it somewhat seems natural for her to take this decision when considering the suffering she must have experienced while being a slave. It would be wrong to consider rational thinking given the circumstances, as Sethe could not possibly take on an objective attitude. The main argument in this paper will focus on emphasizing the contrast between being killed and living life in slavery.
Surely, it would be absurd for anyone to consider the thesis of this…… [Read More]
Playing in the Dark & Art on my Mind
Toni Morrison's Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination and ell Hooks' Art on My Mind: Visual Politics are both works of nonfiction that center on the idea of cultural identity and its politics related to art and literature. Hooks is, of course, a forerunner in the critique of African-American culture and Art on My Mind closely examines the world of creating art in an environment that is overly concerned with politics having to do with identity. Hooks has long been known as a writer that is deeply interested in what is happening with the black community and what struggles that community faces. She examines in her book how art can be something that is empowering for the black community, however, she is discouraged by the lack of interest by critics to non-white art. Morrison, likewise, wants to empower…… [Read More]
female relationships formed amongst the Vaark household and analyze how these relationships change through the movement of the plotline.
In the book A Mercy, Toni Morrison is discussing the changing roles of women and how these relationships continue to evolve. This occurs in three parts of the novel to include: the beginning, the middle and the end. Each one of these areas is illustrating how these transformations are taking place and the way they affect the plotline. (Morrison)
In the beginning, the book is discussing these shifts by providing a basic introduction of the various women. These include: focusing on the lives of Rebekka and Floren. As far as Rebekka is concerned, there is a concentration on her life prior to coming to America. hat happened is she is forced to choose between becoming the bride of Jacob Vaark (a man she has never met) or going into prostitution. (Morrison)…… [Read More]
Human society during its most 'honorable' moments
Gabriel Garcia Marquez' book "Chronicle of a Death Foretold," Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye," and Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" all put across events related to suffering and discrimination. The three writers focused on describing particular characters from the perspective of individuals interacting with them and did not necessarily provide these respective characters with the chance to speak for themselves in regard to the condition that they are in. The three books focus on presenting readers with society's tendency to discriminate particular individuals on account of their particularities, even with the fact that these people have done nothing to harm the social order.
The three novels contain a collection of stories told from the perspective of several characters. Even with the fact that narrators put across most of the rationalization in "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" and in "The Metamorphosis," readers are nonetheless able…… [Read More]
Her society tells her she needs one, and when Milkman enters her life, she invests her entire personality in him. When he leaves her, Hagar lacks the self she needs to survive. Pathetically, she tries to create a self that Milkman will want by buying makeup and clothes, turning her beautiful African hair a horrible orange (Milkman has been dating light-skinned redheads), and generally abasing herself.
Morrison certainly deviates from a sterotypical feminist perspective when she criticizes Hagar's possessiveness as well as Milkman's cruelty. When Hagar and uth argue over Milkman, Pilate points out that a man is not a house to be owned. Finally, when Hagar is trying to kill Milkman (not able to possess him, she does not know what else to do), Guitar tells her how wrong she is to base her value on the possession of a man. How can Milkman love her if she is…… [Read More]
Whereas the pristine manicured lawns of the course might seem to be a boon for Bottom, the encroachment of white culture onto African-American culture will prove devastating. The golf course signifies white control over newly-gained black property, the imposition of white culture on that of African-American culture, and also the reclamation and reformation of land, something that African-Americans had only recently been permitted to own. While it would seem that such a tragic possibility would serve to strengthen the tries between Bottom residents, by the end of the novel, black families are slowly edging their way out of Bottom and into Medallion, destroying the integrity of the African-American community. Added to the moral and ethical conundrums symbolized by Sula, the problem of American race relations threatened to shatter Bottom's fragile identity.
Sula becomes an unwitting martyr for her community. "In Sula, the character of Sula must sacrifice her 'self' completely…… [Read More]
The fact that this figure remains a guess says something important about what orrison was up against in trying to find out the full story of the slave trade. uch of that story has been ignored, left behind, or simply lost.
Through her works she attempted to retell the stories of grief associated with slavery and terror, her characters living their lives with greater understanding of its value than almost any other set of characters in fiction today.
Within the genre of the autobiography there is a different tenor of thought the words and deeds are that of the author and the message is clearly self, devolvement. Angelou in the Heart of a Woman demonstrates the ideals of her time, as a civil rights organizer and protestor. She clearly spells out the strife that exists between whites, and blacks and the dangerous dance they are doing during what most would…… [Read More]
It is well-known that evil people exist in the world. These sociopaths have no values. They do not care who they harm or how. Fortunately, there are few individuals like this who have no conscience. Most people are instead shades of good and bad. They are not always good, nor are they always bad. At times their behavior is exceptional; other times they may say or do something wrong toward someone else. The book Sula by Toni Morrison highlights these blends of human persona. "The narrative [Sula] insistently blurs and confuses . . . binary oppositions. It glories in paradox and ambiguity beginning with the prologue that describes the setting, the Bottom, situated spatially in the top" (McDowell 80). In Morrison's book, it is easy to see such characters as Sula as a "bad woman" or Nel as a "good person," yet as one looks beyond the obvious, vagaries…… [Read More]
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…… [Read More]
"In eloved, Morrison allows the reader to share the legacy of slavery as the characters Sethe, Paul D, and Denver attempt to make a new life in freedom. However, they cannot put the past, lived in slavery, behind them; they must reveal it to themselves, to each other, and to the reader in 'digestible pieces.'" (Nigro) The traumatic events which were experienced by slaves cannot be wiped clean, and the past will continue to have an effect on the future. Today, the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder -- the psychological consequences of experiencing traumatic events -- would perhaps be identified in Morrison's characters. (Feldspar) Nightmares, flashbacks, irritability, emotional detachment, and other distress are common symptoms, and certainly experienced by Sethe and others in eloved, all of which are a kind of continued mental slavery.
In addition to freedom being a myth because of legal and psychological reasons, there are also…… [Read More]
She is the Good Samaritan whose attention to the victim robbed and abandoned by the roadside earned him a place in biblical history. Amy does not falter when called to aid and abet a fugitive slave, or touch a mutilated black woman, or bring new black life into the world. She drags Sethe back to life, using spider-webs to ease her back, massaging circulation into her damaged feet, and delivering her baby. Proactive Christianity provides the tension that undercuts passive emulation and dissimulation. Amy's religion is eminently present, representing her sense of urgency and agency. Sethe owes her life to Amy, who is irreversibly linked to black life, both through her own suffering and through her surname, Denver, which the grateful Sethe gives to her newborn daughter. " (Iyasere, 179)
The commentaries made by Amy Denver are also very significant: first, her call on Jesus: " Come here Jesus" when…… [Read More]
Morrison is simply showing how race matters even when we think that it might not. e might think that Maggie's race, whether she was partially white or not, would not amount too much in a bunch of children but it matters a great deal. Labels turn out to be very important even at a young age. Stereotypes begin at young ages and simply continue throughout life. The girls hair and clothing, what they eat, and how the speak are the only clues Morrison gives us into figuring out Roberta's and Twyla's race and these are the only things the two girls can remember about Maggie.
In "Two Kinds," racial differences also arise between Jing-Mei and her mother because Jing-Mei is more American than her mother is. Her mother moved to America and must adopt to a different culture. She admits, "My mother believed you could be anything you wanted to…… [Read More]
Cho traces the experiences and troubles of the yanggongju across the history of Korea. She does this to document the stories of women who were forced into slavery as comfort women during the war and who by economic necessity ended up turning to the Americans. She calls this emotional suicide the "fabric of erasure" and goes through this process to exorcise the ghost from the Korean national consciousness and the consciousness of women (ibid 1). There is a lot of psychological trauma suffered by the comfort women and Cho adapts to explore these issues across generations of the Korean consciousness. This concept was adapted from studies of the holocaust and fights the emotional erasure. This concept was established by Maria Torok and Nicholas Abraham, scholars of the Holocaust. Cho incorporated these in her project. She said that even "Korean wives who led lives of isolation and were the subject of…… [Read More]
From children to adults, we see how their world is colored by preconceived notions. hen Roberta declares that she is "Mrs. Kenneth Norton," we realize she has "arrived." Twyla understands what it means to take on such a name and immediately assume that Roberta is wealthy. She is correct in her assumption when Roberta confesses that she has two servants. Roberta has no interest in what her husband does as all she knows about his work is that it involves "Computers and stuff. hat do I know?" (Morrison). hile they are reminiscing, Roberta says, "Oh, Twyla, you know how it was in those days: black-white. You know how everything was." (Morrison). This statement causes Twyla to admit that she did not know what Roberta was speaking about but it also demonstrates how children are instilled with preconceived notions. The girls were not aware of the reasons behind their behavior. However,…… [Read More]
omen in Novellas
Gender, as opposed to the physical classification of sex, has always been based upon societal construct. The current psychology of the masses dictates what proper or improper behavior for the given genders is. Things have progressed, but there is still a vast difference between the roles and responsibilities of males and their female counterparts. The conflict of the modern age often stems from an intersection of gender and ethical dilemmas, both based upon societal rules. Fictional characters are written by flesh and blood human beings. Thus, the norms of the social order will bleed into their fictional creations. Female characters in a fictional work will have the same gendered notes as a human being. If they do not prescribe to the norms of their given gender, it is always for an artistic purpose which functions as the purpose of the piece. Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of a…… [Read More]
Doom in the luest Eye and the Voyage Out Doomed From the eginning:
The Inevitability of Death in the luest Eye and the Voyage Out Commonality is a funny thing. Who would suppose that a young, white twenty-four-year-old, turn of the twenty-first century, English lady might have a great deal in common with a young, adolescent, black American girl? This is exactly the case, however, between Virginia Woolf's main character, Rachel in The Voyage Out, and Toni Morrison's Pecola, in her work, The luest Eye.
Despite their differences in time, location, culture, and circumstance, the characters in the two novels share a common fate based on a common cause. oth characters begin life in unfortunate circumstances that foreshadow the inevitable doom that results from their respective positions in life.
Morrison's The luest Eye, opens with the words, "Here is the house."
It starts out innocently enough -- yet, even before…… [Read More]
Character Development in Sula
"the friendship was as intense as it was sudden. They found relief in each other's personality."
~from Sula, "1922"
Toni Morrison is an African-American, female author with a well-respected and known reputation among literary and academic circles. The main characters of her novels often are African-American women caught in normative, yet arduous life circumstances. Her novel, Sula, will be the focus of this paper written by this prolific author who has, among the many accolades of her career, was nominated for the National Book Award for Sula, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature for Beloved. The primary characters of the novel belong to the Peace family, who live in a mostly black neighborhood called The Bottom, in Ohio. The novel traverses several decades in this town and in the lives of a number of the inhabitants. While Sula is the main character (protagonist) in the…… [Read More]
The audience (MARKET) for Sula includes women of all ethnic/racial backgrounds, young adult classrooms discussing black history and racism, and any other individuals who are interested in the history of blacks in the 20th century.
ADVERTISING COPY FOR CAMPAIGN).Sula, by Toni Morrison, provides an excellent historical vision into the life of blacks living in the community of Bottom Ohio after World War I and into the 1960s. This sometimes personally disturbing novel follows the lives of two black women -- from their emotionally troubled and violent childhood, through their different paths of adulthood, to their final meeting and reconciliation. Women readers, especially those who seek stories about historical women protagonists, will be engrossed yet dismayed by the way that Sula lives her life. Young adults and those who study black history will widen their understanding about the challenges and ordeals that blacks had to face even after gaining their…… [Read More]
Madness in Women
In most of the novels and the works in consideration we see the struggle for expression and the quest to overcome masculine oppression (on the part of the author) finds expression as a deteriorating mental state of the character.
Largely guided by their urge to break off from the shackles of the society and the pining for the freedom that has been sadly denied to them, women exhibit a kind of madness in their effort to restore the balance. This is fairly obvious from the many literary works created by women. These works invariably depict the quest for freedom and very often they end up as the lamenting tones of a deranged personality. In most of the novels and the works in consideration we see the struggle for expression and the quest to overcome masculine oppression (on the part of the author) is expressed as a deteriorating…… [Read More]
Gertrude Stein, The Gentle Lena
The most obvious thing about this story was that nothing really happened. At the start, continually reading about the "patient, gentle, sweet and german" Lena and her "peaceful life" I was expecting there to be some twist to the story, perhaps with Lena snapping and becoming something other than patient, gentle and sweet. However, this twist did not come, which is probably what makes the story work so well. It is a simple and sad story about a life lived without consequence. Having Lena resolve the situation in some way, would not be true to the story, since any action would mean Lena's life did have some meaning.
Overall, it is a story of a woman accepting her life without questioning it. Lena does not appear either content or happy, instead it is more like she is numb. This is emphasized by the fact that…… [Read More]
When pushed too far, when too greatly damaged, when the soul has been taken away, when the resilience is gone, all that is left is the act of birth, the cold and empty soul, and a generalized feeling of resentment and anger coming from mother and directed at life and history and the self. Faulkner's Addie's rotting body is an act of revenge, Eva's burning of her son is an act of insanity, both seek the harm of those closest to them, because their disappointment in life is so profound, and they are so utterly trapped in their surroundings, that being a good and wholesome person, being a healthy, nurturing mother, is simply no longer possible. This, then, is the nature of the South for both authors, and it is that nature which tells us that until the bodies are buried, and the souls put to rest, and the corrupted…… [Read More]
hile it is true that Lester's life is not worthless per se, it is important to realize that because he thinks it is and behaves as though it is, he has already given up in the sense that Morrison suggested. Lester has resigned himself to the fact that his life has reached its peak. In other words, he has placed himself into spiritual and mental sleep. At one point, he admits to Brad that he has "nothing left to lose." Here we see that Lester has all but given up because he believes that there is nothing of value left in life.
In addition, Lester's life is worthless because he is not proactive. He proves Morrison's point succinctly when he lives so apathetically and selfishly. Instead of working on things with his wife, he allows himself to become distracted with a silly fantasy about Angela. He lives in a dream…… [Read More]
This renunciation, depending on one's perspective, represents either a willful act of sacrifice or a selfish act of disobedience. Sandra Pouchet Paquet, however, frames this problematic deed in neutral terms in her analysis of the text, which focuses on its ambivalence toward the role of ancestral knowledge in identity formation. Paquet (2009) asserts that Janie "repudiates the values of her surrogate parents in her conscious quest for selfhood" (p.501). She also suggests that ancestral knowledge operates merely as a means to "psychic wholeness" in the novels and argues that the text is successful in exploring "the divorce from ancestral roots that accompanies conventional notions of success" (p. 500) Indeed, this tension between ancestral knowledge and individualistic goals is why Janie has to grapple with interpreting the nature of the knowledge imparted in her moments of coming to consciousness. Specifically, she wants to interpret the mystery conferred to her through the…… [Read More]
African-American authors have been essential to elucidation of the race and gender issues that face Blacks living in America. In particular, Black female authors have confronted the woes of societal stereotypes and idiosyncrasies that reflect life in America for people of color. The intention of this discussion is to examine how women writers analyze the race, class, and gender discrimination that black women have often faced. e will examine the works The Color Purple by Alice alker and The Bluest Eye written by Toni Morrison.
First let's examine The Color Purple which was published in 1982 and subsequently became an academy award nominated screenplay. There are several aspects of the novel that explore race, class and gender. The novel is narrated by a character named Celie. The primary theme of this novel has to do with plight of Celie and explores the manner in which women are treated…… [Read More]
Smith may dislike the stereotype, but she cannot help internalizing it. She feels unfinished because she is regarded as unfinished, and even members of her community urge her to straighten her hair. This is completely different from the joyous, affirmative sigh "I am complete" at the end of Morales' poem. Just as Morales admits that all experiences with racism and discrimination are different, Smith's poem demonstrates how African-American women frequently lack assurance of their sense of self and that their physical qualities are regarded as alien to what is considered 'good' and 'American.' (The young Smith's wearing white to cover up one's tallness seems an attempt to mask blackness and presumed 'badness' with clothing). Morales' instability of identity lies in multiplicity of national cultures, but Smith, even as a young, black girl, but carefully balance her sense as an American and African-American with even greater care and psychological discomfort that…… [Read More]
Jordan has not been honored by naming any street or postal holidays. She was respected and recognized by her own milestones; as she designed modern Harlem with . Buckminster Fuller, had coffee with Malcolm X, received suggestive teachings from Toni Cade Bambara, acted with Angela Davis in a film, and authored an opera with John Adams and Peter Sellars. Irrespective of so much achievements there was no 'Day' named after June Jordan. She was the awarded author of about two dozen books, a great American poet known both for creativity and collections and was one of most critical activists and teachers who have not yet been recognized. This paper is a good testimony to know her better. (June Jordan- www.randomhouse.com)
Jordan is all-inclusive as a poet, essayist, reporter, dramatist, academician, cultural and political activist, however above all she is an inspirational teacher both in words and actions and is considered…… [Read More]
Still it is not completely unheard of for a name to be derived from a longer epitaph of Nat, property of man, Mr. Turner. This is how many people's last names resulted in ending with "man."
Nat Turner was born a slave in Virginia in 1800 and grew to become a slave preacher. He did not use tobacco or liquor and maintained a clean, disciplined life. He was very religious man and became passionate about the Scripture. He began preaching to slaves in and around the area of Southampton County, Virginia in 1828. As a result he became well-known and liked in the area. It was at this time he began having visions. It was these visions that inspired him to revolt. hile he waited for further signs, unrest was already evident in on plantations, in the hills and on boats in ports of call (Greenberg, 85). Gradually he built…… [Read More]
Pecola Breedlove's experiences in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye symbolize the internalization of sexism and racism. On the contrary, Anita Hill's willingness to stand up and speak out against a powerful male official represents the externalization of sexism and racism. Anita Hill lacks the self-hatred embodied by the character of Pecola, but in spite of her confidence and poise, lacks the power or wherewithal to undermine institutionalized sexism. Although Hill had an opportunity to make the personal political, her failure to convince members of the Senate about Clarence Thomas's misconduct highlights the ongoing struggles for all women and especially women of color to reclaim power. When The Bluest Eye was written, the prospects for women of color were even poorer than they were when Anita Hill testified. Yet the outcome of Hill's testimony proves that patriarchy remains entrenched in American society.
A core similarity between Anita Hill's experience and that…… [Read More]
By nationalism they meant not only the cultivation of love for their land and nation but also the development of an identity -- A sense of who Africans were and what they stood for which would be based on nothing that white people had been teaching but on something that would be exclusive to Africa and African consciousness.
The new sense of self would then reflect in all the actions of African people including their writings. It was believed that oppressors so dominate the minds and souls of the conquered people, that the latter start believing in their inferiority and try to please their oppressor by producing work that would be more universal in its subject. However that had to change if Africans wanted to believe in themselves. They would need to address their own people, their own problems and their own cultures and write for their own audiences which…… [Read More]
That being said, it is quite difficult to be honest with oneself, even thought as we stand in front of the mirror, naked and bare, Didion says we remain "blind to our fatal weaknesses." One might think that being too self-critical would damage the ego, but for Didion, it is completely the opposite -- by knowing out flaws, accepting some and working towards the goal of solving others, we become more actualized and powerful. Without this realization, "one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home."
Both Didion and Walker focus on self-respect, self-actualization, and in a very real way, a pseudo-Marxian approach to alienation from society. There are several points in common for the authors: one's own approach to self; seeking and finding self-respect; and taking an active role in our own place in the universe. Conversely,…… [Read More]
Both Tayo and Crowe begin their journeys wandering between two worlds. Both are aware of their wandering and are constantly searching for an identity that will allow them to find the world and identity in which they are most suitable for inclusion. Similarly, both Crowe and Tayo experience a traumatic event that leaves them haunted not only by their pasts, but also guilty about their own actions in the past and sure that these actions have caused others pain. Additionally, these hauntings result in both Tayo and Crowe pushing away the ones they love. For Crowe it is his wife and for Tayo, his family. The similarities between the characters of Tayo and Crowe, therefore, suggest the truth of Saez and insbro's claims. Ethnic writers Shyamalan and Silko certainly employ a common theme of exclusion and inclusion, a theme that is encompassed by the larger theme of the presence of…… [Read More]
Although appearing to act in cold blood, Medea is obviously driven by the irrational forces of her subconscious when he murders her children. On the one hand her act is a reaction towards the threat that a hostile society poses against her identity. On the other hand, he murder is a revenge against her husband's infidelity. The fact that Jason tries to lessen his own deed and make it seem but a reasonable thing that any woman 'with sense' should merely accept, points at the fact that he shamelessly pursues his own goals without considering the damage he does to the others: "Jason: Did you really think it right to kill them because of a marriage? Medea: Do you imagine that loss of love is a trivial grief for a woman? Jason: For a woman of sense, yes. But you find everything a disaster."(Euripides 1994, p. 396) Thus, it can…… [Read More]
print stories as background in order to climb into the cultural and ethnical perspectives of the subject of the article and to investigate that perspective in light of today's socio-political global issues. This will be helpful, in general, as providing means of better understanding the anecdotal actions of the other and helpful, in particular, in that it will grant us enhanced knowledge into how to respect the other be it as tourist or as fellow inhabitant of this world.
a print story on Hassidim and a contextual glimpse into the story with background connection to Jewish Poland; Buddha's birthday and the lotus symbol; the recent witch massacre in the Congo and its roots to American slavery; the attempts of a fringe orthodox Jewish group in Israel to obliterate female faces from its magazines; and messages to Our Lady of Guadalupe and their connection to the Mexican-American experience.
The stories are…… [Read More]
Dr. Martin Luther King: In memoriam
An America facing the increasing threat of an entangling war abroad. An America where the right to vote was unsure, despite constitutional guarantees. A world torn apart by hated, by religious and regional divisions and destruction. All of these were realities of the world faced by Dr. King so many years ago, when he made his famous "I have a dream" speech in 1963. Today, Vietnam has been replaced by Iraq as a constant, nagging international threat. Voting prohibitions and segregation has been ended, but still the ability of individuals to freely and fairly make their voices heard through the vehicle of the ballot box remains uncertain in many counties across America. But even in the face of all of these threats, Dr. King was still able to dream of a better tomorrow. And his willingness to dream created a world, while still imperfect,…… [Read More]
black colleges/Tuskegee University
The psychological, economic, political importance of historically black colleges
In a workplace, the significance of scholarly and nourished atmosphere cannot be underrated in forming a stronger base for future success. (Historically Black Colleges - Letters to the Editor) Before the period of 1964, the 'Historically Black Colleges and Universities'- HBCU's, the postsecondary academic institutions were established and its educational purpose was to teach African-Americans. (The Importance of HBCUs) Historically, HBCUs came into being at a time when Black students were mainly barred from other institutions of higher education, and their purpose was to give these students with chances for scholarship and professional training. (Students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Their Aspirations & Accomplishments) HBCU's have been a main basis in the growth of the African-American middle class. They offer a helpful social, cultural, and racial atmosphere for people of color who are looking for a college…… [Read More]