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Toni Morrison's novels The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved
Pages 8 (2008 words)
The ideas of trauma, memory and narrative are intimately linked throughout Toni Morrison's work. All of Morrison's novels to date deal with the trauma associated with being a black (usually female) American. The novels span around one hundred and fifty years of American history, and the traumas of black Americans range from physical abuses such as injury, rape and murder, to the psychological damage inflicted on black citizens by their exclusion from white society, and their desire for cultural and personal identity and a sense of belonging.
there has to be a mode to do what the music did for blacks, what we used to be able to do with each other in private and in that civilization that existed underneath the white civilization. I am not explaining anything to anybody. My work bears witness and suggests who the outlaws were, who survived under what circumstances and why, what was legal in the community as opposed to what was legal outside it. (Leclair 1981).
Hence, Morrison's novels explore these ideas in two ways: firstly, they deal with personalised memories of traumas experienced by black Americans, explored using fragmentary narrative which in fact mirrors the psychological reality of trauma; secondly, they involve the reader in an act of collective memory, and so attempt to create a unified sense of black American culture and history.
Psychological trauma is omnipresent in Morrison's novels, and The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved are no exceptions. In The Bluest Eye, the primary trauma is that of Pecola: she cannot come to terms with her ugliness as defined by the white stereotype of beauty. ...
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