Racism and Ethnicity Issues in Morrison, O´Connor, and Kingston´s Novels

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The central problem in Flannery O’Connor’s story, “Everything That Rises Must Converge”, Maxine Hong Kingston’s “The Woman Warrior”, and Toni Morrison’s “Recitatif”, revolve on the issue of race. Morrison and O’Connor focus on the theme of race specifically between blacks and whites in America. It could be said that Kingston’s “The Woman Warrior” concentrates on the racial difference between Asian and Caucasian but race is not made to be a big issue in this novel, since almost all of the characters is ethnically Chinese. Instead, the relationships are more marked by nationality. The characters in Jhumpa Lahiri’s collection of stories “Interpreter of Maladies”, are of Indian origin and deal with the problem of ethnicity. In “Everything That Rises Must Converge”, Julian and his mother both display a racist attitude towards blacks. Julian’s mother shows the conventional stereotypes of racist white Southerners. She would “not even ride the bus at night since they had been integrated”. Julian’s mother believes that “they [the slaves] were better off when they were [slaves]”, she feels pity for “the ones that are half white. They’re tragic” and believes that blacks “should rise, yes, but on their own side of the fence”. Julian’s mother does this as well by repeatedly arguing—as if trying to convince herself—that her heritage makes her superior to blacks and even other whites. “Your grandmother was a Godhigh”, she would tell Julian. At one point, Julian’s mother also states, Antoniou 2 “But I can be gracious to anybody. I know who I am”. She believes that her heritage can make her tolerant, but it doesn’t. Julian’s racism, on the other hand, is subtle and demonstrates that most white Americans—including otherwise kind and well-in... ... middle of paper ... ...ent of Bibi Haldar," an almost frightening story burnished with a bit of absurdity set in India. Bibi Haldar, a woman who "suffered from an ailment that baffled family, friends, priests, palmists, spinsters, gem therapists, prophets, and fools," is so much a victim of her culture that when "anticipation began to plague her with such ferocity...the thought of a husband, on which all her hopes were pinned, threatened at times to send her into another attack”. We find characters like Mr. and Mrs. Das who are so distant from their Indian heritage that they need a tour guide, and we find Mrs. Sen, who sits on her floor every day, chopping vegetables in the same way she did in India, with the same knife she used in India. The characters who find happiness are always those who can embrace their present circumstance, while at the same time never forget their Indian roots.

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