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Representations of community in Toni Morrison's fiction
Darlene Rose Shatford (author)Dee Horne (Thesis advisor)University of Northern British Columbia (Degree granting institution)
Master of Arts (MA)
Number of pages in document: 113
In this thesis, I propose a study of Toni Morrison's novels with attention to her fictional representations of African-American communities. I demonstrate how she contests constructions of a homogeneous American communal identity through representations of diverse African-American experiences. Further, I examine the processes of communal identification depicted in her work. Some literary critics have analyzed Morrison's representations of community as either a hindrance or a help in the development of individual characters. But, because Morrison's communities are situated in different regions and decades, and formed under different circumstances, my study of her novels involves an exploration into how, why, and where these communities are formed with attention to space, place, history, and function. I argue that the communal spaces, places, and identities in the novels The Bluest Eye, Sula, and Paradise are constructed by, and out of, social interactions. I also demonstrate how communal identity is a process, not a product, and how it is consistently and continually subject to the forces of history, culture, and power. This particular perspective on identity demands an acknowledgment of the past and how it informs the present, but it also demands a recognition of the ways in which communities are constructed relationally. I also explore the significance of history, memory, and storytelling in Jazz, Tar Baby, and Beloved. I point to how these elements are vital to processes of healing and how they are important to the survival of her varied communities.
Morrison, Toni -- Criticism and interpretation.African Americans in literature.Group identity in literature.