The Role of Race in the Development of the Utopian Societies Featured in Toni Morrison’s Paradise

The Role of Race in the Development of the Utopian Societies Featured in Toni Morrison’s Paradise

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The Patriarchs of Ruby and Their Ideology of Masculinity
Being aware of the oppression and humiliation endured by the Old Fathers followed by the reclamation and revitalization of their identity allows for a certain understanding of the current ideology of Ruby. Founded in 1950, the town is named after one of the community’s women who died because she was refused medical care in a white hospital. Using the woman’s name for the town is meant to memorialize her, however it also acts as a remembrance of the racism that led to her death. Verena Harz writes about the new name of the town and its significant dissimilarity from Haven’s:
The name Ruby thus reflects the community’s obsessive preoccupation with their victimization, their inability to translate the experience of refusal into a different, more positive self-definition and their failure to move beyond racism. The renaming from Haven to Ruby registers a shift of focus in their view of themselves. Whereas Haven clearly emphasizes the aspects of salvation and protection, Ruby is a constant reminder of the community’s rejection, exclusion, and endangerment and reflects its paranoid self- perception. ("Building A Better Place: Utopianism And The Revision Of Community In Toni Morrison's Paradise")
Naming the town ‘Ruby’ constantly reminds its citizens of their harrowing history, which they believe will make them stronger and more united. However, the name actually makes them more susceptible to feelings of suspicion and promotes constant distrust and fear of outsiders. Whereas before the Old Fathers were looking to create a place where they could be free from discrimination, the New Fathers (the patriarchs of Ruby) are trying to build a town in which the exclusion o...


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...(2011): 581+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 2 May 2014.
Harz, Verena. "Building A Better Place: Utopianism And The Revision Of Community In Toni Morrison's Paradise." COPAS: Current Objectives Of Postgraduate American Studies 12. (2011): MLA International Bibliography. Web. 2 May 2014.
Morrison, Toni. “Home.” The House That Race Built. Ed. Wahneema Lubiano. New York: Pantheon Books, 1997. Web. 2 May 2014.
—. Paradise. 1997. New York: Plume, 1999. Print.
Read, Andrew. “As if word magic had anything to do with the courage it took to be a man”: Black Masculinity in Toni Morrison’s Paradise.” African American Review 39.4 (2005): 527-540. Web. 1 May 2014.
Romero, Channette. "Creating the Beloved Community: Religion, Race, and Nation in Toni Morrison's Paradise." African American Review 39.3 (2005): 415+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 1 May 2014.

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