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Unit 16 Toni Morrison (1931


Unit 16 Toni Morrison (1931 ) Aims of Teaching 1. Introduce the writer to students 2. Familiarize students with ideas of the work and the language the writer ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Unit 16 Toni Morrison (1931

Unit 16 Toni Morrison (1931)
Aims of Teaching
  • 1.   Introduce the writer to students
  • 2. Familiarize students with ideas of the work
    and the language the writer used
  • 3. Give them some knowledge of American black

Key Points to Teach
  • Morrisons life and artistic achievements
  • Morrisons thematic concern
  • Morrisons artistic features employed
  • A brief introduction of her major novels
  • A discussion of her short story Recitatif

Her Life
  • Winner of 1993 Nobel Prize for literature, first
    African American to receive this prize
  • Born in 1931 in Lorain, Ohio, basis for some of
    her fictional settings
  • B.A. Howard Univ M.A. Cornell, thesis on woolf
    and Faulkner, taught at Howard Univ
  • since 1989, editor for Random House and given
    numerous public lectures, specializing in
    African-American literature.
  • made her debut as a novelist in 1970, A member
    since 1981 of the American Academy of Arts and

Her Achievements
  • I'm just trying to look at something without
    blinking, to see what it is like, or it could
    have been like, and how that had something to do
    with the way we live now. Novels are always
    inquiries for me.
  • Toni Morrison in Salon Magazine

  • American author, who has been awarded a number
    of literary distinctions, among them the Pulitzer
    Prize in 1988. And Nobel Prize in Literature in
  • In her work Toni Morrison has explored the
    experience and roles of black women in a racist
    and male dominated society.
  • In the center of her complex and multilayered
    narratives is the unique cultural inheritance of
  • Known For her epic power, unerring ear for
    dialogue, and her poetically-charged and
    richly-expressive depictions of Black America.

Her Major Novels
The Bluest Eyes (1970)
  • In 1940s America, a little black girl,
    unlovely and unloved, prays for blue eyes like
    those of her white schoolfellows She becomes the
    focus of the mingled love and hatred engendered
    by her family's frailty and the world's cruelty.

Sula (1973)
  • Sula, Morrisons second novel, focuses on a young
    black girl named Sula, who matures into a strong
    and determined woman in the face of adversity and
    the distrust, even hatred, of her by the black
    community in which she lives.

Song of Solomon (1977)
  • The story of a character named Milkman Dead, who
    in his search for his familys lost fortune
    discovers instead his family history.

Tar Baby (1981)
In a Caribbean mansion the millionaire, Valerian,
and his younger wife, Margaret, live as if in a
troubled sleep. Their comforts are supplied by a
black servant couple. The fifth member of the
household is a beautiful black protegee of
Beloved (1987)
  • Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio,
    but eighteen years later she is still not free.
    She has too many memories of the past. And
    Sethes new home is haunted by the ghost of her
    baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is
    engraved with a single word Beloved

Jazz (1992)
  • Jazz is spellbinding for the haunting passion
    of its profound love story, and for the
    bittersweet lyricism and refined sensuality of
    its powerful and elegant style

Recitatif (1983)
  • 1. Plot A story of the conflicted friendship
    between two girlsone black and one whitefrom
    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.

  • 2. Recitatif or recitative is a vocal style
    in which a text is declaimed in the rhythm of
    natural speech with slight melodic variation
    (American Heritage College Dictionary, 3rd ed.
    1997) The story is Twylas recitatif

Recitatif A Story of doubles
  • One black and one white, but the reader cant say
    for sure which is which
  • Both are misfits in the orphanage they dont
    have beautiful dead parents in the sky their
    mothers are alive
  • Bad students
  • Twyla couldnt remember things
  • Roberta cant read

Historical Structure (age 8 is definite, later
ages are estimates)
  • Twyla and Roberta meet at different ages, in
    different settings
  • At 8 (orphanage, 4 months)
  • At roughly 18-20 (Howard Johnsons on thruway
    near Kingston, N.Y.)
  • 1) Twylas a nightshift waitress
  • 2)Roberta passing through with two men, going
    to see Jim Hendrix, whom Twyla calls she
  • 3) Roberta and men laugh at Twyla, dont say

Historical Structure
  • At roughly 30-32 (Food Emporium, Newburgh, NY,
    late June)
  • At roughly 30-32 (Picket-lines, Fall)
  • Later 30s (coffee shop, Christmas Eve)
  • Joseph in college (about 18)

Jimi Hendrix (19421970)
Historical Structure
  • This story of doubles is suspended through recent
    American history
  • Race relations
  • Bussing(to integrate schools)
  • Computer industry
  • Changes in town of Newburgh, NY,once upstate
    paradise, then half on welfare, with new
    wealthy tech class working for IBM

The Significance of Maggie
  • Shifting memories/shifting meanings
  • Maggie fell
  • Maggie didnt fall, was knocked down
  • Twyla and Roberta both kicked Maggie, who was
  • Twyla didnt kick Maggie, but wanted to
    associated Maggie with her mother
  • Roberta didnt kick Maggie, but wanted to
    associated Maggie with her own mother

Consumer Culture name-brand products,
corporations, TV show, pop icons
  • Klondike ice cream bars The Wizard of Oz
  • Tab The Price is
  • Yoo-Hoo The Brady Bunch
  • Chiclets Jimi Hendrix
  • Elmers glue
  • IBM
  • AP

  • Recitatif takes place in impermanent, transient
    settings. What effect or significance might this
    feature of setting have?
  • Orphanage
  • Howard Johnsons
  • New shopping mall/parking lot
  • Picket lines
  • Coffee house

  • As double, Twyla and Roberta share an
    uncomfortable past
  • Roberta challenges Twyla to remember parts of her
    past Twyla prefers to forget
  • Reality and repressed desire get mixed up
  • In the present ,they are one anothers racial and
    class other
  • They collaborate to reconstruct their shared past
    and bridge their differences of class and race
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