Morrison, Dante and Structure

Despite having the syllabus all semester and never hearing anything about it, I assumed for the majority of the course that there would be some kind of big analytical paper about Toni Morrison’s trilogy to do at the end. I had this imaginary assignment in the back of my head for months and I was certain that I would write this paper about Toni Morrison’s structure and organization, as it is what has stood out to me most in all of the novels we’ve covered.

I guess since I can’t have a whole paper, I’ll do some here. I think I’ve already made some posts about structure, but what can I say… I’m a fan of how Morrison uses it.

None of the books we read were perfectly linear; we’d get bits and pieces along the way and there never seemed to be a clear “present” time. We’ve talked during this semester about the unreliability of Morrison’s narrators. Though Morrison’s narrators seem Continue reading “Morrison, Dante and Structure”

Sethe and Ruby: Dehumanization

“’No, no. That’s not the way. I told you to put her human characteristics on the left; her animal ones on the right.’” (Beloved 228)

Today somebody in class brought up the part in Beloved in which Schoolteacher dehumanizes Sethe by teaching children that she is like an animal. I too recalled this part of Beloved while reading Paradise and saw even further how cruel and ignorant it is to dehumanize a human being for their race. However cruel and ignorant it is, it seems commonplace in the setting of Morrison’s books. It struck me hard when I read about Ruby’s death on page 113 and how it was entirely due to racism. Continue reading “Sethe and Ruby: Dehumanization”

The Novel Embodiment of Jazz Music

For some reason I’m normally tempted to skip the foreword of novels. Perhaps I just want to get right into the story. Perhaps I think Roman numeral pages don’t really count. But I did read the one in Jazz and I’m glad I did because as I’ve been reading I’ve had Morrison’s introductory words in the back of my head, shaping how I read it. I don’t know everything about jazz music but Morrison explains how she’s used it in her novel. She says jazz music is primarily about “invention. Improvisation, originality, change,” and that “rather than be about those characteristic, the novel would seek to become them,” (xx). I made a blog post about Morrison’s use of structure in a Mercy, and her brilliant use of it in Jazz, though a somewhat different, is catching my attention yet again. She said herself in the foreword, “I had written novels in which structure was designed to enhance meaning; here the structure would equal meaning” (xix). So I knew even before starting the book that Morrison would be doing some cool jazz-like things with her structure, and I am not disappointed. Continue reading “The Novel Embodiment of Jazz Music”


As I’ve been reading Beloved, Morrison’s use of hands has stuck out to me the most, but unfortunately I cannot seem to find a way to smoothly add it in to our current conversation. I even looked to see if there might be an article somewhere on the use of hands in Beloved but came up… empty-handed. *Crickets*. And although we have not really looked into it and I can’t seem to find anything else that has, I still believe it is a theme worth some attention.

I began to notice how Toni Morrison makes use of hands as a descriptor when I caught how often she mentioned Amy’s “good good hands,” (95). Four times in one chapter. Hands seem to Continue reading “Hands”

The Episodic Organization of a Mercy

At last, I have mustered up the confidence to make a blog post! Over the past few weeks I’ve kept up with my readings but have been too shy to speak in front of the whole group. I believe it was recently however that Dr. McCoy assured us that none of us really know what we’re talking about, and this has inspired me to put my thoughts here. How wrong could I be?

I don’t think we have spoken much about how the chapters in a Mercy have been organized, but we have recently touched on making connections between all Continue reading “The Episodic Organization of a Mercy”