Essay on Paradise by Toni Morrison

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Paradise by Toni Morrison

Nine patriarchs found a town. Four women flee a life. Only one paradise is attained. Toni Morrison's novel Paradise revolves around the concept of "paradise," and those who believe they have it and those who actually do. Morrison uses a town and a former convent, each with its own religious center, to tell her tale about finding solace in an oppressive world. Whether fleeing inter- and intra-racial conflict or emotional hurt, the characters travel a path of self-isolation and eventual redemption. In her novel Paradise, Toni Morrison uses the town of Ruby and four broken women to demonstrate how "paradise" can not be achieved through isolation, but rather only through understanding and acceptance.
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The citizens begin to associate with the outside world that had once despised them, and they became "eager to get away and try someplace else" (6). The town of Haven "had gone from feet to belly in fifty years" (5) and because of this the "New Fathers" decide to dismantle the Oven and relocate. The "New Fathers" sought to keep the dream of a paradise alive because they knew "what they might become if they did not begin anew" (6). Fifteen families pack their bags and leave to found the town of Ruby, a town isolated by ninety miles from anything.

Just like its predecessor, Ruby is founded on the concept that isolation equals protection. The citizens view Ruby as a "fortress [they] bought and built up and [which they had] to keep everybody locked in or out" (213). It is a town where "outsider" and "enemy" are "'. . . two words [that] mean the same thing'" (212). They believe in their isolation so much that the outsider, Reverend Misner, feels like "he [is] herding a flock which [believes] not only that it [has] created the pasture it [grazes] but that grass from any other meadow [is] toxic" (212). In an effort to retain this isolation which they believe to be paradise, the citizens did not build anything "to serve a traveler: no diner, no police, no gas station, no public phone, no movie house, no hospital" (12).

In spite of these efforts
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