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Toni Morrison Toni Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio, and earned her B.A. at Howard University and an M.A. at Cornell. Toni Morrison was born in Lorain,

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Presentation on theme: "Toni Morrison Toni Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio, and earned her B.A. at Howard University and an M.A. at Cornell. Toni Morrison was born in Lorain,"— Presentation transcript:

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2 Toni Morrison Toni Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio, and earned her B.A. at Howard University and an M.A. at Cornell. Toni Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio, and earned her B.A. at Howard University and an M.A. at Cornell. After teaching college literature for several years, she began writing fiction, and in 1964 she started working as an editor for Random House, a New York City publishing firm. After teaching college literature for several years, she began writing fiction, and in 1964 she started working as an editor for Random House, a New York City publishing firm. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye (1970), introduced several of the concerns about race and gender identity that would appear in her subsequent novels, Sula (1974), Song of Solomon (1977), Tar Baby (1981), Beloved (1987), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, Jazz (1992), and Paradise (1998). Love (2003) Her first novel, The Bluest Eye (1970), introduced several of the concerns about race and gender identity that would appear in her subsequent novels, Sula (1974), Song of Solomon (1977), Tar Baby (1981), Beloved (1987), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, Jazz (1992), and Paradise (1998). Love (2003)

3 Morrison was the recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize for literature; she is currently the Golheen Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University. Morrison was the recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize for literature; she is currently the Golheen Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University.

4 ‘‘Recitatif’’ ‘‘Recitatif’’ is the only published short story by Morrison. It appeared in a 1983 anthology of writing by African-American women entitled Confirmation, edited by Amiri and Amina Baraka. ‘‘Recitatif’’ is the only published short story by Morrison. It appeared in a 1983 anthology of writing by African-American women entitled Confirmation, edited by Amiri and Amina Baraka.

5 ‘‘Recitatif’’ ‘‘Recitatif’’ tells the story of the conflicted friendship between two girls—one black and one white—from the time they meet and bond at age eight while staying at an orphanage through their re-acquaintance as mothers on different sides of economic, political, and racial divides in a recently gentrified town in upstate New York. ‘‘Recitatif’’ tells the story of the conflicted friendship between two girls—one black and one white—from the time they meet and bond at age eight while staying at an orphanage through their re-acquaintance as mothers on different sides of economic, political, and racial divides in a recently gentrified town in upstate New York.

6 Race Relations in the 1950s Race Relations in the 1950s: Segregation In the 1950s communities throughout the country, particularly in the South, had segregated public facilities, including schools, public transportation, and restaurants. Throughout the country, social and cultural segregation was the norm. There were several landmark events in the struggle for racial equality during this decade and it is considered to mark the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. Race Relations in the 1950s: Segregation In the 1950s communities throughout the country, particularly in the South, had segregated public facilities, including schools, public transportation, and restaurants. Throughout the country, social and cultural segregation was the norm. There were several landmark events in the struggle for racial equality during this decade and it is considered to mark the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.

7 Race Relations in the 1950s In 1954, overturning a 1896 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional, though integration would occur gradually. The decision was met with strong resistance from politicians and the public alike. In 1954, overturning a 1896 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional, though integration would occur gradually. The decision was met with strong resistance from politicians and the public alike.

8 Recitatif Recitatif (1983) has many kin in contemporary American literature: it is a story of two women, formerly childhood friends, who meet by chance and struggle to rediscover some key memories and find grounds for intimacy and empathy despite the effects of time and personal experience. Recitatif (1983) has many kin in contemporary American literature: it is a story of two women, formerly childhood friends, who meet by chance and struggle to rediscover some key memories and find grounds for intimacy and empathy despite the effects of time and personal experience.

9 Point of View Twyla is the main character and also the narrator of the story. She describes the events in the first person, from her own perspective, and the events are presented as Twyla remembers them. Twyla is the main character and also the narrator of the story. She describes the events in the first person, from her own perspective, and the events are presented as Twyla remembers them. One of the places where point of view is most pivotal is in terms of memories of Maggie. Early in the story, Twyla describes her memories of the orchard. At first she claims that ‘‘nothing really happened there. Nothing all that important, I mean,’’ then goes on to describe how one day the orphanage’s mute kitchen women, Maggie, fell down in the orchard One of the places where point of view is most pivotal is in terms of memories of Maggie. Early in the story, Twyla describes her memories of the orchard. At first she claims that ‘‘nothing really happened there. Nothing all that important, I mean,’’ then goes on to describe how one day the orphanage’s mute kitchen women, Maggie, fell down in the orchard

10 Maggie Maggie Story of Maggie — a mute woman — also partakes of archetypal structure: this is a story of primal guilt which (like the story of Adam and Eve) takes place in a garden, an apple orchard Story of Maggie — a mute woman — also partakes of archetypal structure: this is a story of primal guilt which (like the story of Adam and Eve) takes place in a garden, an apple orchard

11 “ Recitatif ” is a story of doubles, one black and one white, but the reader can ’ t say for sure which is which “ Recitatif ” is a story of doubles, one black and one white, but the reader can ’ t say for sure which is which As doubles, Twyla and Roberta share an uncomfortable past As doubles, Twyla and Roberta share an uncomfortable past Roberta challenges Twyla to remember parts of her past Twyla prefers to forget Roberta challenges Twyla to remember parts of her past Twyla prefers to forget Reality and repressed desire get mixed up Reality and repressed desire get mixed up In the present, they are one another ’ s racial and class “ other ” In the present, they are one another ’ s racial and class “ other ” They collaborate to reconstruct their shared past and bridge their differences of class and race They collaborate to reconstruct their shared past and bridge their differences of class and race

12 The issue of race and racism is central to the story. Twyla’s first response to rooming with Roberta at St. Bonny’s is to feel sick to her stomach. ‘‘It was one thing to be taken out of your own bed early in the morning—it was something else to be stuck in a strange place with a girl from a whole other race.’’ The issue of race and racism is central to the story. Twyla’s first response to rooming with Roberta at St. Bonny’s is to feel sick to her stomach. ‘‘It was one thing to be taken out of your own bed early in the morning—it was something else to be stuck in a strange place with a girl from a whole other race.’’ Throughout the story Twyla and Roberta’s friendship is inhibited by this sense of an uncrossable racial divide, played out against the background of national racial tensions such as the busing crisis. Throughout the story Twyla and Roberta’s friendship is inhibited by this sense of an uncrossable racial divide, played out against the background of national racial tensions such as the busing crisis.

13 Morrison's "Recitatif" reminds us that race is important, providing many examples of the differences between Roberta and Twyla. Morrison's "Recitatif" reminds us that race is important, providing many examples of the differences between Roberta and Twyla. The challenging feature of this story is that we never learn conclusively which character is white and which is black. You will make assumptions and like many you will assume that you have it figured out, but in the end a conclusive ending is not possible. The challenging feature of this story is that we never learn conclusively which character is white and which is black. You will make assumptions and like many you will assume that you have it figured out, but in the end a conclusive ending is not possible.

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