ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why You Need to Read Toni Morrison

Updated on July 2, 2020
Maisie Mayne profile image

Enthusiastic English graduate sharing and discussing powerful literature.

Why Morrison is Essential Today

As the Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1993, the importance of Toni Morrison’s work is no secret to the literary world. Having said this, following the tragedy of George Floyd and the ignition of the ‘black lives matter’ movement, a revision of Morrison’s work has become even more critical in 2020. In 1989, Morrison claimed that ‘there is no place, where you or I can go, to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves’. Therefore, her literature has evolved into a platform to recollect these absences, give a voice to those who have historically been silenced, and fill in the blanks of our history which is often left untouched or breezed over by the curriculum of European and American education.


The Novels to Begin With

The sharing of the history of slavery on social media, raising awareness of factual inequalities and explanations of systematic racism undoubtedly play a vital role in educating people on how racism and exploitation have been the building blocks for the most influential powers on our planet. Having said this, I want to highlight the significance of Morrison’s novels, as facts and explanations may be forgotten or misunderstood, but literature's power in terms of emotions and empathy enables a universal understanding. There can be no comparison between acknowledging slavery and actually being placed in the ironically named plantation of ‘Sweet Home’ in Morrison’s Beloved. In this setting, we are vicariously exposed to the unspeakable horrors of slave life through the character of Sethe. In this novel, we are not only plunged into life on a Kentucky plantation that involves slave masters, beatings and sexual assault, but we also come to understand the haunting effects of such experiences. After escaping Sweet Home, the appearance of her former slave master at her home 124 causes Sethe to murder her third child in order to prevent her from being admitted into slavery. The tragedy of this event proves that slavery does not end after the escape or abolition, and the legacy of its effects are felt for generations to come.

The legacy of slavery can be seen most agonisingly in The Bluest Eye. Set in Ohio in the 1940s, this novel centres around the experiences of young black girls, whose age, gender, and skin colour tragically render them the most vulnerable and powerless members of society. This novel explores how the legacy of slavery still permeates daily life, in terms of how the black population are still working and living underneath white dominancy. The tragic story of Pecola shows how racism can be internalised, as she believes her blackness to be ugly and inherently wishes to possess blue eyes in order to fulfil white standards of beauty and consequently be accepted into society. However, in reality she is looked at by a shopkeeper with ‘a total absence of human recognition’ and a ‘glazed separateness’. Society’s racial out-casting of Pecola leaves her vulnerable to an abusive family, and so when her father rapes her, there is little care or intervention from her community.

There is no doubt that Morrison's novels are not a comfortable read, the topics are difficult and the events which occur are chillingly awful to comprehend. Nevertheless, in order to fully understand and empathise with the grotesque aspects of our past, there is no doubt that they must be read and remembered.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)