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  • Morrison, Toni

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Ed. cit.

Home

London, Vintage, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-099-55594-0

Look to yourself. You free. Nothing and nobody is obliged to save you but you. Seek your own land. You young and a woman and there's serious limitation in both, but you are a person too.

biography

Toni Morrison (Lorain, Ohio, 1931) has articulated the oppressions that hinder the black subject in an attempt to trace the impervious involvement between communities and the emergence of heterogeneous individualities. As she questions the extent to which current discourses might encompass marginal voices, she also ponders on the limits of universalism. Having won several awards, including the Nobel Prize in Literature (1993) and The Pullitzer Prize for Fiction (1988), Morrison occupies today a recognized position amongst many authors who overtly verbalize oppressions sprouting from sexism, racism and classism.

synopsis

Home unravels the story of Frank Money, an enraged but devastated soldier who has returned from war to defy the racial segregation that has been perforating the government's claims for equality. Deeply overwrought by the war, Frank soon ascertains that his sister Cee, the guileless victim of a sadistic gynecologist, is in terrible danger. He then initiates a journey that, apart from ensuring Cee's welfare, will unveil his long-forgotten identity.          .

review

Home offers an excellent portrayal of the process whereby the reconstruction of the subject is assured through a minute examination of trauma. Frank Money, determinedly concealed beneath a sturdy yet artificial heroism, is entirely reluctant to recall the atrocities he perpetuated during the war. Having a part of his own identity befogged by a desire to be approved by his sister, Frank rebukes the need to embrace the past as a catalyst for crafting the future. Instead, he constructs a new identity grounded on a paradoxical portrayal of masculinity soaked in light-heartedness and compassion. In an attempt to fulfill a successful formulation of hegemonic masculinities, which are said to portray men as being armored against emotional responses, Frank is forced to ravage his feelings and, henceforth, his past. He, along these lines, denies his participation in the murder of a young girl as he tries to obliterate a part of his identity. At the end of the novel, however, he admits that "I lied to you and I lied to me" (133) and subsequently affirms that he "shot the Korean girl in her face" (133) after brutally raping her. Cee’s salvation becomes the means by which Frank progresses, both in a physical and an emotional manner, towards the redefinition of loss, self-acceptance and humanitarian truthfulness. Hence, Home verbalizes Frank's necessity to dismiss the hypermasculinity he initially embraced in order to regain the love of his sister and the social recognition that Lotus, his hometown, always shrouded him in.

Paralleling such a depiction of masculinities, Morrison articulates, in a mesmerizing way, the strength hidden within sisterhood as a tool for reconstructing the female subject. Cee, initially portrayed as a victim of a burdensome and wounding patriarchy, materializes a journey towards self-empowerment. While it is true that Cee is nullified as an individual by her torturous boss, she eventually manages to become an agent of righteousness and power through the help of another woman. Cee's experience, though, is worsened by the discovery of her being sterile, which can be understood as the final misfortune to be endured for her to become a self-sufficient subject. Cee accepts her condition and, in doing so, she manages to define herself outside the limits set by the dominant discourses which, in turn, imply that caring and motherhood are the premises that foster deceitful conceptions about femeninity. Morrison's plethoric descriptions about the denial of motherhood, a recurrent topic in her novels, seem to impinge on the archetypical portrayal of women as embracing a range of emotions among which receptivity and nurturing are to be highlighted. Home is, therefore, delineating an alternative yet firm depiction of femininity by articulating the emergence of a woman who is able to defy the oppressive discourses of heternonormativity and patriarchy. The final scene, describing the funeral of an unidentified corpse, can be read as a celebration of the past and a mystification of the future, which, in turn, implies the feasible shattering of racist, if not sexist, boundaries. Overshadowed by Cee's journey towards self-embracement lies Lily's, Frank's former girlfriend, attempt to claim for her own independence after discovering Frank's apathy. "Unobstructed and undistracted", Morrison writes, "she could get serious and develop a plan to match her ambitions and succeed" (80). Lily, though she disregards the strength of sisterhood, remains as a self-defined, independent woman who rebukes the necessity to cling to men in order to prosper.

Home, thus, materializes the coexistence of two parallel narratives that redefine the concepts of masculinity and femininity. Morrison magnificently envisages a microcosm where gender equality, through a laborious yet paradoxical acceptance of mourning and gain, can be eventually reached. Masculinities that are able to overcome traumatic experiences are masculinities that do not fear displaying the emotions and the frustrations that men feel as men, from men, for men, about men. And it is in this process of deconstruction that feminism plays a major role. Equality is sought. Feminism ignites the outbreak of alternative masculinities, and, simultaneously, alternative masculinities are to contribute to the empowerment of womanhood. .

autopoiesis

"I want to write for people like me, which is to say black people, curious people, demanding people - people who can't be faked, people who don't need to be patronized, people who have very high criteria."

(Toni Morrison, Voices from the Gaps)

critical bibliography

Brod, Harry and Kaufman, Michael (1994), Theorizing Masculinities, Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage Publications.

hooks, bell (2014), Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, New York, Routledge.

Morrison, Toni (1992), Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, New York, Vintage Books. 

 

Edita: Centre Dona i Literatura

Puyuelo Ureña, Eva

Puyuelo Ureña, Eva (2016), "Toni Morrison. Home", Lletra de Dona in Centre Dona i Literatura, Barcelona, Centre Dona i Literatura / Universitat de Barcelona.

http://www.ub.edu/cdona/lletradedona/es/home
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