Paradise by Toni Morrison

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Paradise by Toni Morrison

Throughout many of Toni Morrison?s novels, the plot is built around some conflict for her characters to overcome. Paradise, in particular, uses the relationships between women as a means of reaching this desired end. Paradise, a novel centered around the destruction of a convent and the women in it, supports this idea by showing how this building serves as a haven for dejected women (Smith). The bulk of the novel takes place during and after WWII and focuses on an all black town in Oklahoma. It is through the course of the novel that we see Morrison weave the bonds of women into the text as a means of healing the scars inflicted upon her characters in their respective societies.

Paradise deals with the lives of dejected women and the support group the women form for each other. Morrison draws attention to this key issue by removing the element of race from the novel, a heavy contrast to her earlier works, by not allowing the reader to know the races of the women. Thus the relationships present throughout the work can be seen strictly through the contrast between the abusive and damaging relationships found outside of the convent to the supportive and loving ones in the convent. This removal of race also allows us to see the bigger picture, which is not dictated by race (Smith). By examining the relationships in the novel, we see two distinct arenas dealing with identity and the women, which is the world outside of the convent, and the convent. Before reaching the convent, identity for the women is a broken notion in which the men they associate with dictate.

The first woman we are introduced to is Mavis. Her relationship with her husband is an example of the type of subservience c...

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