Toni Morrison Essays

1329 Words Mar 11th, 2002 6 Pages
Toni Morrison

The issue of abandonment and the will that it takes to survive the hardship of it is a reoccurring theme in Toni Morrison's writing. Tar Baby, Sula and Paradise all deal with the issue of abandonment and how it relates to the characters in her stories. "Through her fiction, Toni Morrison intends to present problems, not their answers" (Moon). Her stated aim is to show "how to survive whole in a world where we are all of us, in some measure, victims of something." (Morrison) Morrison's broad vision extends beyond the individual to one that explores self-discovery in relation to a "shared history." In order to dramatize the destructive effects of this kind of dependency, she intentionally exaggerates to find the limits. In a
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Unlike Howard University, where black culture was neglected or minimized, at Texas Southern they celebrated black heritage with Negro history week and introduced to her the idea of black culture as a discipline rather than just personal family reminiscences. Morrison's discovery of the minimization of the black culture in the school that she attended may be looked upon as the abandonment of her roots and her black culture. This idea of abandoning the black culture is the main theme in her novel, Tar Baby.
"Tar Baby is also a name, like "nigger," that white people call black children, black girls, as I recall…. At one time, a tar pit was a holy place, at least an important place, because tar was used to build things…. It held together things like Moses' little boat and the pyramids. For me, the tar baby came to mean the black woman who can hold things together."
("An Interview" 255) Toni Morrison's Tar Baby (1982), is a novel about contentions and conflicts based on learned biases and prejudices. These biases exist on a race level, gender level, and a class level. The central conflict, however, is the conflict within the main character, Jadine. This conflict, as Andrew W. A. LaVallee has suggested, is the conflict of the "race traitor." It is the conflict of a woman who has discarded her heritage and culture and adopted another trying to reconcile herself to the "night

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