Morrison’s Potential Inspiration

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”

Jacob and the Raccoon

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”

Beginning of Semester Reflection and Hopes

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”

I’m Infatuated by Florens’ Infatuation

*SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED THIS WEEK’S READING

During this week’s reading we learn through Lina that the “you” Florens continually addresses is a blacksmith–a FREE black man who worked on the estate Lina and Florens reside at.

During her sections, Florens repeatedly displays her infatuation with this blacksmith: Continue reading “I’m Infatuated by Florens’ Infatuation”

Toni Morrison’s Inspiration?

Having previously read Beloved, and now reading A Mercy, I found myself curious about some more of Toni Morrison’s background. In particular, I was curious about where the inspiration for her books came from, considering both had a similar context and themes. Interestingly, I found out that Morrison was born in Ohio and attended an integrated school. Continue reading “Toni Morrison’s Inspiration?”

A Different Take on “Flesh”

In Rachel’s post, she points to the etymology of the word “flesh” in the lines “Jacob flinched.  Flesh was not his commodity”.  She suggests that when he does trade enslaved people, he views them as bodies; as fungible, mutually interchangeable, as in without individual personhood.  

I’d like to examine these lines through a different lens. If I remember correctly, Dr. McCoy suggested in class that this line may give the reader insight into how Jacob makes peace with the violence he takes part in.  He says he only trades commodities which are raw goods such as gold and coffee.  Jacob has a physical reaction to the suggestion that D’Ortega settle his debt with enslaved people.  He winces and says he does not trade flesh (25). This suggests that he does not want to trade enslaved people.  He is content with trading raw goods.  However, these goods are produced through the violent exploitation of enslaved people.  Therefore, he does trade in flesh.  He is an integral part of the capitalist loop that upholds chattel slavery.  The line “flesh was not his commodity” is untrue not only because he ends up settling his debt through the trade of a human, but because he profits directly from the system he’s attempting to reject.

Continue reading “A Different Take on “Flesh””

Five (ENGL-458-01, James “Jimmy” Douglass)

I counted them. There were about five men total in McCoy’s class of about thirty students. I found out later I had miscounted. It wasn’t really a problem. I grew up with three bossy sisters and I make friendships easily with females. However, I still felt slightly out of place, as if I had picked the wrong class. I then realized that there were even less people in the class with African heritage. In a class about Toni Morrison, a black author who writes about minority struggles and inequality, this class still had an overwhelming majority of white students.

 
As a white male, to say that I felt a connection with centuries of oppression would be insulting at best. I grew up surrounded by white people and watching films with “smurfettes” and token black best friends. I accepted these films as if they displayed accurate representations of our world’s demographic. Currently, I am studying to be a educator and I will be responsible to train the minds that will become the voices of our world’s discourse. It will be my job to help make the world better for each individual, starting with my own future classroom. But how can we do more than just say people in the minority belong? How can I mute my inner voice of privilege that would dare consider myself underrepresented? I am hoping to explore practical questions of oppression and representation more and more as I try to become more aware of those around me and less focused on myself.

Buzzfeed: Assorted Toni Morrison Quotes

Hi all! I recently came across this Buzzfeed article of Morrison’s quotes.  They are truly beautiful and if you haven’t started to read “A Mercy” yet, I think this is a nice taste of her writings and speeches.

Which is your favorite & why? I love “We die.  That may be the meaning of life.  But we do language.  That may be the measure of our lives.” Continue reading “Buzzfeed: Assorted Toni Morrison Quotes”