Thought I would do a more detailed post after sharing that slam piece.
I would like to spend a little bit of time writing about the prominence of the color green in Paradise. The first page that I noticed it on was page 7, when the men are raiding the Convent. Morrison wrote: “The man eyes the kitchen sink. He moves to the long table and lifts the pitcher of milk. He sniffs it first and then, the pistol in his right hand, he uses his left to raise the pitcher to his mouth, taking such long, measured swallows the milk his half gone before he smells the wintergreen.” Immediately when I hear the word “wintergreen” I think of mint. I googled wintergreen to see if it has some sort of medicinal properties, and it does.
According to WebMD, wintergreen may be used for an array of ailments including headaches, stomachaches, fever, arthritis, menstrual cramps, and so on. WebMD also states that wintergreen is unsafe to take by mouth: “Taking wintergreen oil or large amounts of wintergreen leaf can cause ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, stomach pain, and confusion.” I am wondering if the Convent women put wintergreen in the milk for themselves, or purposely so the men raiding the mansion would become sick. Or maybe one of the women is trying to keep the others in control? It is also interesting how the man does not notice the taste of the wintergreen for quite some time. This leads me to believe that it’s scent has been muted–or maybe Morrison just wants us to see it that way? What do you all think of this?
The second instance of green I noticed is on page 24: “From where they sat no one in the room could see the Cadillac parked in front of the house. But it had been seen for months by everybody in the neighborhood, and could now be seen by anybody in Maryland since the photographer had taken more shots of it than he had of them. Mint green. Lettuce green. Cool. But the color wouldn’t be in the newspaper. What would show would be the size, the flashiness of the place the babies had died.” Here, the green is being muted again, this time by the black and white newspaper. I’m wondering if this is some sort of metaphor for taking life? After all, Mavis’ babies died in that green car.
This is from page 57: “Excited voices sounded near, and [K.D.] went to see. Behind a chain-linked fence bordered by wide seamless concrete he saw green water. He knows now it was average size, but then it filled his horizon. It seemed to him as though hundreds of white children were bobbing in it, their voices a cascade of the world’s purest happiness, a glee so sharply felt it had brought tears.”
To me, it seems like this swimming pool is a haven, but K.D. sees it filled with white children. What does this mean? Is K.D. thinking that only white children reach a heaven? The sight makes him so happy he cries. Why does this image move him so much?
I know Morrison wants us to question the race of the characters in the novel. Do you see K.D. as black? As white? Why/why not?
On page 9 of Musa’s translation, we learn that Dante wants the laurel crown: “26. crowning myself with those green leaves: Here and in verses I-9 of Paradise XXV are the only places in Comedy where the Poet makes explicit his hope that the great poem will win him the poet’s crown of laurel. Dante never doubted he was a great poet.”
Green is being used here as a symbol of smarts and praise, but also implies Dante’s ego. Can we connect this to Morrison in any way?
Let me know what you think of the recurring green in the novel–I’m interested to see what others make of it.