Toni Morrison

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Toni Morrison

The issue of abandonment and the will that it takes to survive the hardship of it is a reoccurring theme in Toni Morrison’s writing. Tar Baby, Sula and Paradise all deal with the issue of abandonment and how it relates to the characters in her stories. “Through her fiction, Toni Morrison intends to present problems, not their answers” (Moon). Her stated aim is to show "how to survive whole in a world where we are all of us, in some measure, victims of something." (Morrison) Morrison's broad vision extends beyond the individual to one that explores self-discovery in relation to a "shared history." In order to dramatize the destructive effects of this kind of dependency, she intentionally exaggerates to find the limits. In a film interview, Morrison has stated, "I suppose that in many of my novels I tend to discuss one's dependency on the world for identification, self-value, feelings of worth. The abandonment that it takes for one to gain these qualities is prominent in my writing.” Toni Morrison has been consistently insightful and helpful critic of her work. With regard to her novels, she has indicated that her plan was to take love and the effects of its scarcity in the world as her major themes, concentrating on the interior lives of her characters, especially those of an enclosed community.
Born Chloe Anthony Wofford, on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio. The daughter of George Wofford, a shipyard welder, and his wife Ramah, Morrison was schooled by her parents in the richness of her African-American heritage and the joys of great literature. When she entered first grade, she was the only black student in her class and also the only child who had already learned to read. Since many people couldn't pronounce her first name correctly, she changed it to Toni, a shortened writing". version of her middle name. She joined a repertory company, the Howard University Players, with whom she made several tours of the South. She saw firsthand the life of the blacks there, the life her parents had escaped by moving north. After graduating, Toni was offered a job at Texas Southern University in Houston, where she taught introductory English. Unlike Howard University, where black culture was neglected or minimized, at Texas Southern they celebrated black heritage with Negro history week and introduced to her the idea of b...

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... of her birth, to marry, to raise a family, to become a pillar of the tightly knit black community. The other, Sula Peace, rejects all that Nel has accepted. She escapes to college, submerges herself in city life, and when she returns to her roots, it is as a rebel, a mocker, a wanton sexual seductress.”(Back Cover)
The relationship between the young women throughout a certain portion of their lives was put on hold due to the distance between them. Sula chose to move away from Ohio when she was young and therefore somewhat abandoned the life that the two girls had in previous years. When reunited with Sula, Nel expresses her thoughts on the abandonment of herself by her friend:
“[Sula] said doing anything forever and ever was hell. Nel didn't understand it then, but now in the bathroom, trying to feel, she thought . . . "Sula was wrong. Hell ain't things lasting forever. Hell is change." Not only did men leave and children grow up and die, but even that misery didn't last. One day she wouldn't even have that. This very grief that had twisted her into a curve on the floor and flayed her would be gone. She would lose that too”. (Morrsion, 108)

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