Essay about Toni Morrison and Historical Memory

Essay about Toni Morrison and Historical Memory

Length: 5000 words (14.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Most of literature written by American minority authors is pedagogic, not toward the dominant culture, but for the minority cultures of which they are members. These authors realize that the dominant culture has misrepresented minority history, and it is the minority writers' burden to undertake the challenge of setting the record straight to strengthen and heal their own cultures. Unfortunately, many minorities are ambivalent because they vacillate between assimilation (thereby losing their separateness and cultural uniqueness) and segregation from the dominant culture. To decide whether to assimilate, it is essential for minorities to understand themselves as individuals and as a race. Mainstream United States history has dealt with the past of the dominant culture forgetting about equally important minority history. We cannot convey true American history without including and understanding minority cultures in the United States, but minority history has to first be written. National amnesia of minority history cannot be tolerated. Toni Morrison is a minority writer has risen to the challenge of preventing national amnesia through educating African-Americans by remembering their past and rewriting their history. In her trilogy, Beloved, Jazz and Paradise, and in her other works, Morrison has succeeded in creating literature for African-Americans that enables them to remember their history from slavery to the present.

Toni Morrison has been called America's national author and is often compared with great dominant culture authors such as William Faulkner. Morrison's fiction is valued not only for its entertainment, but through her works, she has presented African-Americans a literature in which their own heritage and history a...


... middle of paper ...


..., Inc., 1992.

Morrison, Toni. Paradise. New York: Penguin Putnam, Inc. 1997.

Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Cambridge. Harvard University Press, 1992.

Morrison, Toni, Song of Solomon. New York: Penguin Books USA, Inc., 1977.

Reyes, Angelita. Memory, Narrative, and Identity: New Essays in Ethnic American Literatures. Carnival as an Archaeological Site for Memory. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1994, 179-197.

Singh, Amritjit, Joseph T. Skerretk Jr., and Robert e. Hogan. Memory, Narrative, and Identity: New Essays in Ethnic American Literatures. Introduction. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1994.

Tally, Justine. Paradise Reconsidered Toni Morrison's (Hi)stories and Truths. Hamburg: Lit Verlag, 1999.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Analysis of Toni Morrison's Beloved Essay

- Analysis of Toni Morrison's Beloved Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize winning book Beloved, is a historical novel that serves as a memorial for those who died during the perils of slavery. The novel serves as a voice that speaks for the silenced reality of slavery for both men and women. Morrison in this novel gives a voice to those who were denied one, in particular African American women. It is a novel that rediscovers the African American experience. The novel undermines the conventional idea of a story’s time scheme....   [tags: Beloved Toni Morrison Literature Essays]

Powerful Essays
4384 words (12.5 pages)

Essay on The Importance of the Past in Toni Morrison's Beloved

-   "The future was sunset; the past something to leave behind. And if it didn't stay behind, well, you might have to stomp it out. Slave life; freed life-every day was a test and a trial. Nothing could be counted on in a world where even when you were a solution you were a problem"1 The past is something that, without clinical illness, is impossible to forget. No matter how horrific or emotionally damaging, it cannot be changed. What we chose to do with this memory of the past will shape our future....   [tags: Toni Morrison Beloved Essays]

Powerful Essays
2275 words (6.5 pages)

The Site Of Memory By Toni Morrison Essay

- Within "The Site of Memory", Toni Morrison highlights the continuous display of the black humanity through the history of Black literature and its 's social changing powers. She then goes on to explain the tools and techniques of doing so. Morrison even warns against the mixing of facts and truth. Finally, Morrison discusses what the site of memory really is and its spark to the imagination. Morrison starts by outlining the style and circumstances of these narratives, one to capture the historical personal life and account of racism, and two the move to persuade the probably non black reader of the humanity of the black people enslaved....   [tags: Black people, African American, Slavery, Art]

Powerful Essays
1350 words (3.9 pages)

`` Beloved `` By Toni Morrison Essay example

- "Beloved" is a novel by Toni Morrison, based on racial hierarchies and representation of the ghost in the new issues racial hierarchies. This novel is based on a ghost that remind everyone about the past and present as disturbing to be successful association with ghosts and racial hierarchies. Ghosts are souls and spirits of the dead and disrupting our sense of separation from the undead as ghosts are so strange. "Beloved" is based not only on the mind of the beloved, but represents all the characters of the past, like black people....   [tags: Black people, Slavery, Race, White people]

Powerful Essays
1041 words (3 pages)

How The Past Affects the Present in Toni Morrison's Beloved Essay

- Toni Morrison is one of the most prominent writers within the Post-Aesthetic movement (Napierkowski). Mirroring their increased presence in politics, African Americans also became highly visible as writers during the 1960s. Harlem Renaissance writers such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston had been prominent in the 1920s, while Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison achieved both literary and popular acclaim in the 1940s and 1950s. Many of these works were popular because of the way they were able to interpret the black experience for a white audience....   [tags: Literature, Race]

Powerful Essays
2100 words (6 pages)

How Does Toni Morrison's Beloved Reflect a Postcolonial Sensitivity Essay

- Toni Morrison defines her writing as a kind of literary archaeology which relies on memory, history and autobiography. How does her literary practice reflect a postcolonial sensitivity. The archaeologist sifts through the rubble of past civilisations for signs of human activity, in order to construct a picture of how people lived in the past. Like a kind of literary archaeologist, Morrison sifted through historical records and researched the diaries and memoirs of slaves and their owners before writing Beloved, in order to gain some sense of the experience of slavery as seen through the lives of ordinary people....   [tags: American Literature]

Powerful Essays
995 words (2.8 pages)

Essay about Memory in Toni Morrison's Beloved

- Memory in Toni Morrison's Beloved     Memories are works of fiction, selective representations of experiences actual or imagined. They provide a framework for creating meaning in one's own life as well as in the lives of others. In Toni Morrison's novel Beloved, memory is a dangerous and debilitating faculty of human consciousness. Sethe endures the tyranny of the self imposed prison of memory. She expresses an insatiable obsession with her memories, with the past. Sethe is compelled to explore and explain an overwhelming sense of yearning, longing, thirst for something beyond herself, her daughter, her Beloved....   [tags: Toni Morrison Beloved memorybel]

Powerful Essays
803 words (2.3 pages)

The Historical Trauma of Slavery in the Film Version of Toni Morrison's Beloved

- The Historical Trauma of Slavery in the Film Version of Toni Morrison's Beloved The film Beloved was released in 1998 to mixed reviews. The movie, based on Toni Morrison's novel, tells a ghost story from an African American perspective. It takes place only a few years after the abolishment of slavery, with the traumatic scars still fresh and unable to be healed. In the film the protagonist, Sethe, is revisited by the ghost of the daughter she murdered eighteen years earlier. I shall argue that her daughter, Beloved, is the embodiment of the trauma of the African American experience of slavery....   [tags: Toni Morrison Beloved Essays]

Powerful Essays
3146 words (9 pages)

Comparing the Role of the Ghost in Morrison's Beloved and Kingston's No Name Woman

- The Symbolic Role of the Ghost in Morrison's Beloved and Kingston's No Name Woman The eponymous ghosts which haunt Toni Morrison's Beloved and Maxine Hong Kingston's "No Name Woman" (excerpted from The Woman Warrior) embody the consequence of transgressing societal boundaries through adultery and murder. While the wider thematic concerns of both books differ, however both authors use the ghost figure to represent a repressed historical past that is awakened in their narrative retelling of the stories....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Powerful Essays
979 words (2.8 pages)

Toni Morrison Essay example

- Toni Morrison In the mid twentieth century, the Civil Rights Movement influenced African-American writers to express their opinions. Most African-American writers of the time discussed racism in America and social injustice. Some authors sought to teach how the institution of slavery affected those who lived through it and African-Americans who were living at the time. One of these writers was the Toni Morrison, the novelist, who intended to teach people about all aspects of African-American life present and past....   [tags: Biography Toni Morrison Author Essays]

Powerful Essays
1926 words (5.5 pages)