War and Paradise

As I was astounded by how little work has been done regarding Morrison’s Paradise, I looked up my thesis regarding the women’s scenes in “Save-Marie”, and eventually landed on an article discussing some quotes from Morrison herself, regarding the novel’s conception.

As it turns out, Paradise was not the original title- “Paradise just hit bookstores, but Morrison wanted to call it War. It begins with a six-shot staccato sentence: ‘They kill the white girl first.’ Explains Morrison, ‘I wanted to open with somebody’s finger on the trigger, to close when it was pulled, and to have the whole novel exist in that moment of the decision to kill or not.’ Knopf feared the title War might turn off Morrison fans. ‘I’m still not convinced they were right,’ she says.”

Additionally, Morrison was interested in why “Paradise necessitates exclusion.” This, coupled with her interest in naming the novel War, seems to me particularly interesting given the militant clothing and possessions of the women in the end of the novel. Morrison possibly was pointing to the human desperation to get into an exclusionary paradise, and the idea of such a place in and of itself creates violence. This violence appears to be done by those who disagree with one another on who exactly is to be excluded. Thus, the men kill the convent women because they deem them “other,” and redefine Hell based on what they believe is undesireable traits; this violence seems to foreshadow future violence as the women come back prepared to “shoulder the burden,” down in “paradise”.

I think the main idea is that Morrison explores the violence associated with the idea of exclusion.

The short article can be found here:


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