As a class, we have already discussed that Toni Morrison writes for black people. I think that has a lot of weight and the discussion of what that exactly means should be continued throughout the semester, but in this post I’d like to focus on Morrison’s relationship to female readers shown through her female characters in A Mercy.
I think it was Emily (I’m not positive, though it was someone) who brought up the idea that possibility of Florens being raped mentioned by Rebekka on page 84 is a women’s issue. I really liked that idea, because that can be seen as a similarity between many characters that Dr. McCoy had told us to look for while reading that section of the novel.
When thinking about this in class, I was particularly drawn to one passage found on page 115. To save space, I won’t include the entire quotation, but I was looking specifically from “Although they had nothing in common…became like children when the man was gone.” In this passage, I believe that Rebekka shows great wisdom. She relates the male-female dynamic and how the power inequity affects all women, from the religiously devout to her shipmates (women sent out of the country for their lewd behavior), from herself to the slave/servant women in her life. This one passage seemed to sum up the idea of similarities vs. differences in the characters very succinctly. As we continue to read Morrison’s works, I plan to look into her relationship to female readers, not just black readers. (As a disclaimer, I’m not trying to make myself included in her target audience- I just think that her choosing to write about “women’s issues” makes for an interesting discussion).
After Dr. McCoy’s brief mention of “Virginia’s Verger” in class last week, I decided to search a little for the original document–Purchas his Pilgrimes–which, written by Samuel Purchas, a settler in the New World, turned to out be brimming with intertwined racism and sexism. Can you guess how shocked I am (hint: not at all)? Continue reading “Virginia’s Verger: Sexual Politics of Race in the New World”
Since reading Sarah’s post, I’ve been thinking about Toni Morrison’s intentions in writing A Mercy. In doing a little digging around on the internet, I happened upon an NPR series in which Morrison reads from her book. Continue reading “Morrison’s Intentions”
Dr. Beth invoked an excellent metaphor for the outside forces that affect our responses to cultural productions like Morrison’s A Mercy. The idea is that we as products of various cultural and other forces bring expectations and assumptions into the space of the classroom, and if we do not try to root our responses in the text themselves, we are often possessed by these thoughts and “scripts” that may have nothing to do with the text. As someone that considers themselves as very conscious of these forces (from other English classes and my personal life), and as someone that has negatively been shaped and centered in the culture by them in various ways (primarily as a queer individual), I was very surprised to find myself “possessed” by these scripts while reading A Mercy. Continue reading ““Phantom” Assumptions and Expectations”
After having watched the documentary today in class that Sarah had previously mentioned, Dr.McCoy gave us about ten minutes to reflect on any significant connections that we could see between the documentary and Toni Morrison’s A Mercy. While Sarah had already started this discussion with her post, I think it is only appropriate to continue this discussion. Continue reading “A Response to “A Terrible Transformation, Africans in America””
I’ve never publicly blogged before. Growing up as a rather shy person–in both my personal life and my writing–the idea of other people reading my work was enough to reduce me to a puddle. But as I’ve begun to find my voice as a writer in college, I’ve grown more comfortable with the idea of sharing my ideas on a public forum–and when I found out that a component of this course was public blogging, I was surprised to find myself more excited than nervous.
However, every time I sit down to actually begin to write, fear seems to keep creeping back in. But this time, it isn’t because I’m uncomfortable with my voice as a writer; it’s because, as a white person, I’m terrified I might do violence to the black community that Toni Morrison’s work was actually written for. Continue reading “A Response to “How to Read Texts Not Written For You?””
When Beth told us of how Toni Morrison mentioned that she writes for black people, the first thing I thought about was a topic that came up a couple times in Beth’s African-American Literature course. Several writers and critics who were covered in the course mentioned that Black people do not read. I remember thinking deeply about this idea and although I initially got defensive, I thought to myself, “It’s actually true. Black people really don’t like to read.”
Growing up in a minority environment, and going to minority schools, I witnessed first hand that reading was never a favorite pastime or even hobby for most Black people, myself included. I began to wonder why. There are many reasons that I can think of as to why Black people are not interested in reading, but for the purpose of this post, I will just connect this fun fact to Morrison’s statement about writing for Black people. Perhaps, Morrison notices that Black people do not like to read, and she feels as if the reason for it is that reading has been made out to be a White thing.
Throughout my childhood, the people that I saw who actually read books for fun were the White people on television. In real life, it was very rare that I would find somebody who I knew reading a book, unless it was assigned for a class. I think it is possible that one of Toni Morrison’s motives in stressing that she writes for Black people is to get Black people to read. She shatters the notion that reading is a White thing by making the Black community her target audience.
I don’t mean to jump ahead, but Sara’s post got me thinking about Morrison and her potential motives for her writing. I too have been exploring some of the intersections between Beloved and A Mercy that I have seen so far (I haven’t finished A Mercy yet). I was intrigued by Sara’s question, “What inspired Morrison, if not her own personal experience of discrimination?” This then reminded me of one of the questions brought up in the first class meeting: “How can we parallel Morrison’s work to what we see in society today?” While I can’t speak for Morrison, I like to believe that at the end of the day, Morrison, like many others, is trying to achieve a more equitable society through her writing. Continue reading “Morrison’s Potential Inspiration”
After looking at Jacob’s contradictory denial of dealing in “flesh”, which Hannah does a good job of explaining in her post, I started thinking about the ways that Toni Morrison made Jacob first appear to be a benevolent character, only to contradict that appearance after closer reading. The most obvious attempt to show Jacob’s altruism, in my opinion, was his rescue of the raccoon in the beginning of the chapter.
Saving a baby animal is about as in-your-face as Morrison could get to show that Jacob is a lovable guy, but she brings the raccoon back several times in a way that I think reveals the part of himself that Jacob denies. Continue reading “Jacob and the Raccoon”
Hey, all. I just wanted to share this short reflective essay that I wrote to Beth a few days ago, detailing some thoughts on my self-identity in relation to Toni Morrison’s works and the upcoming semester:
Toni Morrison writes for black people. I’ve been thinking about this statement over and over again since the first day of class. It wasn’t until the end of my first fiction workshop that I had considered using my narrative voice to talk about the black experience. I wrote a short story about the creation of the notorious Bloods and Crips; gangs that have been tainted by media and corrupted social structures; gangs that began as clubs and fraternities for underprivileged minorities who couldn’t join white clubs in the community. That story still haunts me to this day.
By the time I had dabbled in poetry and left the world of fiction behind—albeit temporarily—I had already written a myriad of pieces about what it meant to be black in America; poems ranging from topics like Emmett Till to the slave trade. At the time, I was still a novice when it came to discovering my voice: what did I want to talk about? what was I using my poetry to do? was I writing for myself or for others? I also didn’t want to limit myself to one topic of discussion; in other words, I didn’t want to be the black male writer—because I was definitely the only one in all of my workshops—who specifically wrote about the black struggle. The thought of this troubled me; it made me feel stagnant. I was afraid that those around me thought that I was cliché and was only using my voice for shock value or guilt tripping. I think about this now, and maybe I was indeed right to do those things. Continue reading “Beginning of Semester Reflection and Hopes”