Character development is a critical component of writing a novel. Character development is a tricky task for an author because while they know and understand their character, choosing when and how to reveal information to the reader is a meticulous task. For this blog post I will be analyzing Toni Morrison’s character development of Frank Money in Home. The thought to make this blog post came to mind when my classmate, Maddy, raised the question why did Morrison wait until the very end of the novel to reveal Frank’s killing of the young North Korean girl?
To answer the question of why Toni Morrison waited to unveil that Frank killed a young Korean girl I feel that it is first important to understand what Chimamanda Adichie calls a single story. Adichie delivered a TED talk titled “The Danger of A Single Story”, here is a link to the transcript of the talk. In this TED talk, Adichie says “..to create a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again and that is what they become”. To me this quote embodies Adichie’s whole point of her speech. Which is the idea that when you only see somebody for one thing and one thing only, then that one thing begins to represent all of who they are and it completely wipes away all of their stories and experiences. Adichie says “The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity”. A single story masks a person, it covers who they are with an artificial idea placed on by someone else.
The reason I felt the explanation of a single story important is because Toni Morrison’s strategic character development was to prevent the single story of Frank Money. If Morrison had told us about the killing of the young North Korean girl, Frank’s single story would have emerged. One potential single story would be that Frank Money was a murderer. This single story would have completely disrupted the intimate relationship Morrison builds between the reader and Money. By having the italicized chapters represent Frank’s thoughts the reader gets to see a piece of Frank that would have otherwise been hidden. Morrison also develops Frank uniquely throughout the novel by having chapters be told through Cee and Lily. By doing this Morrison provided the reader with Frank’s world through his own eyes, how Frank is seen through Cee’s eyes and how he is seen through Lily’s eyes. This development is what allows the reader to feel connected to Frank. If the death of the Korean girl had emerged earlier the development of Frank’s PTSD would have been clouded by his single story. The readers would have seen Frank as a product of a single action instead of a product of his life’s experiences, robbing Frank of his dignity.