Fairy Tale Icons in Morrison's Tar Baby and Montero's Te Tratare como a una reina

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Deconstructing Fairy Tale Icons in Toni Morrison's Tar Baby and Rosa Montero's Te Tratare como a una reina


In this study I will examine how, from a feminist perspective, both Toni Morrison's fourth African-American novel, Tar Baby (1981), and Rosa Montero's third post-Franco Spanish novel, Te trataré como a una reina (1983), explore the problems that arise when women believe that they are the stereotypes permeating literature. Both women writers employ similar techniques that subvert and deconstruct the stereotypical roles of men and women, unveiling the fairy tale icons of the heroine and the hero that have been masquerading as "real" people.


Day and night are mingled in our gazesŠ

If we divide light from night, we give up

the lightness of our mixtureŠ We put

ourselves into water tight compartments,

break ourselves up into parts, cut ourselves

in twoŠ we are always one and the other,

at the same time. -Luce Irigaray1

In 1975 the death of Franco and forty years of dictatorship and censorship offered Spanish women the freedom to reexamine their identity and question their role in a patriarchal society. At the same time on another continent, African-American women are also struggling to find their identity among the numerous American literary images that, until the 20th-century, had not realistically represented their gender or race. Notwithstanding the different histories, geographies, and ethnicities between African-American and Spanish women, a common thread that appears to bind them is their inheritance of a legacy of struggle against the internalization of controlling patriarchal perceptions and images of women that lead them to believe that they are, indeed, the stereoty...

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Montero, Rosa. Te trataré como a una reina. 1983. Barcelona: Seix Barral. 1990.

Morrison, Toni. Tar Baby. 1981.New York: Plume, 1982.


1 Luce Irigaray, This Sex Which Is Not One (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985) 217.

2 Critics have noted that what I call "multiple interpretations" and binary oppositions are characteristic of Morrison's works.

3 Trudier Harris, Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison (Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 1991) 116.

4 On the Sea Bird II he thinks of "women" (6), later with the same contextual references he thinks of "fat black ladies" (119).

5 This and all subsequent translations are mine.

6 Racial stereotyping, also defined in fairy tale motifs, suggest that Son is a "frog" when his African-American hair is in its natural state and a "prince" when he conforms to the grooming norms of the white culture.
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