Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Life and Novels of Toni Morrison


Published on

  • Be the first to comment

Life and Novels of Toni Morrison

  1. 1. Rachel Kammen AFAM 3433 Fall Semester 2013 Septemeber 26, 2013
  2. 2. Toni Morrison is an African American fiction writer. Her novels became famous in the 1970s and 1980s. She has won numerous awards for her work, most famously, a Nobel Prize in Literature, a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  3. 3. Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford on February 18, 1931 in Ohio. As a child she enjoyed storytelling and reading, so it was assumed that she would do well in school. Her upbringing inspired many of her novels (Bloom 10).
  4. 4. Her father was a sharecropper who moved north to become a shipyard welder in order to provide a better life for his family. Her mother taught her to be powerful, resourceful, and respectful which fueled many of her maternal themes in her novels. She heard stories of the past from her grandparents about growing up in the South. She was the second of four children (Bloom 10).
  5. 5. Toni attended Howard University and received a BA in English in 1953. She received a Masters from Cornell in 1955. Afterwards she taught at Texas Southern University in 1957 then returned to teach at Howard University. She married a fellow faculty member, Harold Morrison and had two children. They divorced in 1964 and she began working as an editor (Bloom 10-11.
  6. 6. The Bluest Eye 1970 Song of Solomon 1977 Beloved 1987
  7. 7. From her family she was taught to have a strong, black self image which is prevalent in her novels. Maternal authority and equality in marriage. Power in black community. African American identity, shame, trauma, and family life.
  8. 8. She wrote this book because she wanted to write a book that didn’t exist at the time and she wanted it to be a book she would want to read. This book was continued from a short story Morrison had wrote earlier about an African American girl who wanted blue eyes. The novel shows the problems of race and class hierarchies related to “poor and black”. They have internalized their inferior position from ‘white culture’ and do not believe anything else (internalized racism) (Bouson 23).
  9. 9. The main character, Pecola, goes through many traumas including racial shaming, rejection and abuse from her mother, sexual abuse from her alcoholic and violent father, and scapegoating by members of the community. Pecola ends up having to create an alternate identity because her true life is too difficult to bear (Bouson 25-26).
  10. 10. This novel revolves around the themes of black masculinity, assimilation, and black nationalism. The search for African American roots is also a large part of the book. It brings attention to the personal-familial and social-historical aspects of African-American identities (Bouson 75).
  11. 11. The main character, Milkman Dead, is in the black elite but he carries shame from his family. He learns about black masculinity and his true identity while in different parts of the United States. This book is really addressed to middle-class African American males as it shows the struggles between classes and how to fit in with the “privileged” and the poor blacks (Bouson 75-76).
  12. 12. This novel encapsulates the importance of race to African Americans; they have been labeled as the Other, inferior, dirty, unintelligent, primal. Slavery is in the forefront as it shows how internalized racism affected the slaves. She shows slavery in its harshest and truest forms, because she does not want people to forget how much hurt and shame it caused (Bouson 131).
  13. 13. The main character, Sethe, is a slave mother who decides to kill her children and herself because her slave owner had found her, She based this event off of a real person’s life, Margaret Garner. By using infanticide, she was able to use the shock factor in making readers more interested in the book. Trauma and shame run rampant throughout this novel as well showing how all Morrison’s books use these themes (Bouson 131-135).
  14. 14. Toni Morrison won the Pulizter Prize for fiction for Beloved in 1988. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. She has won numerous other awards for books She has honorary degrees from Barnard College, Oxford University, Rutgers University and received one of the highest honors from Vanderbilt University.
  15. 15. The novels written by Toni Morrison provided a new outlook on African American life. She was honest and truthful in her writing which shocked people, but it gave her the recognition she deserved. Being an African American woman novelist is the current society is very important to people everywhere. She has allowed for many to relate to her books and for others to be able to understand what people have gone through. She was the first African American woman to win a Nobel Prize.
  16. 16. Her writings have inspired many African American women to become writers. They have seen her success and know that they can do it too. In school, unfortunately books written by women and men of color rarely make it into curriculums and Toni Morrison has been able to change that. Her novels allow every person regardless of race a chance to learn about African American culture and the struggles that are prevalent in everyday life.
  17. 17. In 2008, Morrison did an interview with Time Magazine. She answered 10 questions from people around the country. This was the one that I found most interesting and inspiring. “Do you think that young black females are dealing with the same self-acceptance issues today as your character was in The Bluest Eye?” -Francesca Siad, CALGARY, ALTA. “No, not at all. When I wrote the book, the young women who read it liked it [but] were unhappy because I had sort of exposed an area of shame. Nowadays I find young African- American women much more complete. They seem to have a confidence that they take for granted. (Time 2008)”
  18. 18. In order to put more recognition on Toni Morrison and her accomplishments I think that schools and colleges should include her books in their curriculums. I had never heard of Toni Morrison until college and I think that mature high schoolers could be able to read and understand her novels. I believe that many African American Studies programs would have her novels as assigned readings, but Women and Gender Studies courses and feminism courses could have her books in them as well.
  19. 19. "10 Questions." Time 171.20 (2008): 4. Military & Government Collection. Web. 9 Sept. 2013. Bouson, J. Brooks. Quiet As It's Kept : Shame, Trauma, And Race In The Novels Of Toni Morrison. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 2000. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 9 Sept. 2013. Bloom, Harold. Toni Morrison. Broomall, Pa: Chelsea House, 2000. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 9 Sept. 2013. Photos have sources in the notes portion of the slides.