K. SRI VIDYA LAKSHMI,
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH,
SRM UNIVERSITY, RAMAPURAM CAMPUS.
It may not be out of place if the paper begins with a brief account of Toni Morrison and her contribution to Literature in general and Afro-American Literature in particular.
Toni Morrrison, the noted Afro-American writer and novelist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, has indeed carved a niche for herself in the World of Literature and has done her country proud. She has made significant contribution to what has come to be called African-American Literature through her novels and critical essays. She focuses on the problems faced by the black women in a society that is so recalcitrant as not to give the place that is due to women. Morrison’s oeuvre gives a clear picture of the life, culture and society of the black people. Morrison, a woman of formidable intelligence and talents, comes from a family of industrious black people who fought racial oppression and inferior socio-economic status. Her works revolve around social issues such as racism, class exploitations, sexism etc. and it offers a fresh perspective on black life, their history and genealogy. It is best to sum up the worth of Morrison’s works in her own words:
If anything I do, in the way of writing novels, (or whatever I write) isn’t about the village or the community or about you. Then it is not about anything. I am not interested in indulging myself in some private, closed exercise of my imagination that fulfills only the obligation of my personal dreams-which is to say yes, the work must be political… it seems to me that the best art is political and you ought to make it unquestionably political and irrevocably beautiful at the same time. (Irfan, 10)
Through her novels Morrison presents the non-linear African-American socio historical reality, where she shows the effect and the effect of the history and genealogy. Her major works are about works is slavery and racism, and their psychological and social effects on the blacks over ages. Morrison’s novels show the victimization of black people within the context of social order. The theme of her novel reflects the sense of identity of a black person trying to recover his/ her history and culture, which has so far been suppressed due to White narcissism.
Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a classic example of her wonderful portrayal of the problems faced by Afro-American women and the ill-treatment meted out to them by an incorrigible and recalcitrant society which refuses to see the human dignity and the divinity present in their fellow beings, because of colour difference. Morrison’s novel Beloved places the black woman named Sethe above other characters and perhaps makes her the representative of the suffering black women.