Contrasting Views of bell hooks and Toni Morrison

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Contrasting Views of bell hooks and Toni Morrison


        Even though people might have similar backgrounds it doesn't mean that they share the same opinions.  This is evident in the works of bell hooks and Toni Morrison.  bell hooks article mainly deals with the concept of racism and feminism.  Her article looks at the movie about her people in a negative light.  The other articles by Toni Morrison look at life and what it holds in a positive light.  From the different works, I sense that bell hooks looks at the world with pessimism and Toni Morrison views the world with optimism.  Toni Morrison feels that everybody is equal and the same.  While bell hooks feels that everybody is not equal.  From her opinions of female black woman you sense that she feels that life is not fare.  On the other hand Toni Morrison's work makes her seem like a person who thinks that you make the best with what you are given.


        Authors make many choices when they write.  These choices give authors the uniqueness that they share from their counterparts.  Many authors use different writing techniques to portray their point.  Others take different views or opinions to portray their ideas on paper.  However authors do use similar styles and opinions to portray their ideas in writing.  In the works of Toni Morrison and bell hooks many similarities and differences can be drawn from their writings. Both authors come from similar backgrounds, Black middle aged females.  Their background provides them with many bizarre and extraordinary beliefs that are uncommon to most Americans.


        The article "Sorrowful Black Death is not a hot ticket" was written by bell hooks to discuss the image of Black families portrayed by Hollywood.  In particular she discusses the image of the Black family in Spike Lee's movie Crooklyn.  The first point that bell hooks makes about Spike Lee's portrayal of Black families is his depiction of the black female child.  In his movie Troy, a ten-year-old girl is put in the role of "mini-matriarch because her mother is sick and dying requires of Troy that she relinquish all concern with pleasure and play, that she repress desire"(p. 105).  Bell hooks feels that this portrayal puts a negative light on the life of black females.  She is very intrigued by the fact that "the film in no way suggests that there is anything wrong with a ten-year-old girl assuming an adult role"(p. 105).  By stating this she thinks that the message that is learned by others is that, it is a common "acceptance" in black culture for a girl to assume the role of parent and nurturer after the death of a mother.  This also is a way of depicting the Black female life as meaningless and easily replaceable.  After the death of the mother bell hooks feels that the family appears more "harmonious". She says, "order is restored in the Carmichael house when the dominating mother figure dies"(p. 106).  This is bell hook's opinion of how the black female figure appears unneeded and in some ways unwanted.  Overall bell hooks seemed like the movie was ridiculing the person she was, and she was very disappointed with the picture as a whole.  During the whole article she is looking at the negative points in the movie, she finds no positive aspects.  The constant negative viewpoint is not as prevalent in the next piece of work by Toni Morrison.


        The article "Strangers" was written by Toni Morrison and published in the New Yorker.  The article deals with Toni Morrison's attempt and conclusions on strangers.  The article starts with Toni Morrison's encounter with a poor fisherwoman.  She meets the woman for fifteen minutes and can't wait to see her again.  The woman says to Toni Morrison that she will come around again but she never does.  She is intrigued by her because in their conversation, she suggested to her "promises of female camaraderie, of opportunities for me to be generous, of protection and protection"(p. 69).  The woman never comes around again and in doing such taking Morrison's "good opinion of herself, which of course, is unforgivable"(p. 69).  Then she states that "that is the kind of thing that we fear strangers will do? Disturb. Betray. Prove they are not like us"(p. 69).  What she means by this quote is that people fear strangers because strangers make them feel like there lives are different and in some ways wrong.  Later Morrison realizes that what she wasn't longing for the fisherwoman but "missing some aspect of herself, and that there are no strangers...There are only versions of ourselves, many of which we have not embraced, most of which we wish to protect ourselves from"(p. 70).  What she means by the statement is that everybody is the really the same.  The final result that is left in your head after reading the article is that everybody is beautiful and unique in their own ways but deep down we are all the same.


        Another work by Toni Morrison called "The world according to Toni Morrison" is based around Toni Morris's views on many issues that are common in American society.  In this article her views are not as positive as in "Strangers" because she does not view the world with the same, everybody is one attitude, but she is still not as pessimistic as bell hooks.  She writes in the article about many Black issues but she never blows up an issue to make it sound worse than it really is, as hooks does.  She is positive towards the black community but she recognizes the problems that exist in the community and makes suggestions on how to deal with them.  One example is when Morrison writes about the issue of Black children.  She feels that there are "no government agencies to take care of us, we take care of each other"(p. 223).  By saying this she realizes the problem with the Black youth and asks the rest of her community to help.  Unlike bell hooks who repeatedly states problems with the portrayal of the black female and gives no solutions to the problem.  She also writes about issues that include more than just the black population.  She writes about capitalism, loneliness, remarriage, and friendship between women.  None of these issues are based on the black community.  She does write about O.J. and the Bell Curve but she doesn't write with the same vigor and irritation that bell hooks does in her destruction of Croklyn.  In fact, she states that "we frequently cast Black men in the lead roles because the theatricality and emotional baggage are more intense"(p. 224).  In this statement Morrison complements Hollywood.  hooks would have never complemented Hollywood especially for the representation of Black men.  In another issue, Morrison finds fault in the Bell Curve just as hooks would, but her notions aren't very extreme, she looks at the Bell Curve as just another hurdle that the Black community must overtake.  If hooks were to comment on the Bell curve her views would surly be entirely negative.


        Both bell hooks and Toni Morrison are from similar backgrounds and have similar views but the writing tactics that they use make them very different.  Bell hooks is more of an extremist and more interested in finding problems then solving them.  Toni Morrison writes more about life than about problems, she is more concerned with the pursuit of happiness than the search of fault.


       There are many authors in the world, each with their own styles and opinions; it is our job as readers to read all authors with an open mind.  If we read openly we will become more diverse with the opinions and styles of other authors.  In doing this we will become more educated and have the ability to view more sides of an issue.

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MLA Citation:
"Contrasting Views of bell hooks and Toni Morrison." 27 May 2016

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