Song Of Solomon By Toni Morrison Essays

In the Foreword to , Morrison talks a lot about migration.(Much of the Foreword comes from the assigned sections of "Unspeakable Things Unspoken," by the way.) 5) American Citizenship.

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In that Foreword, Morrison describes specific African American history and also the larger US history and how different groups that make up US culture fit into that.

There is a piece of her discussion of the first lines in "Unspeakable Things Unspoken" that is not included in this Foreword to which I’d like you to pay attention.

Those issues of inclusion and exclusion get brought up numerous times in all of Morrison’s work.

2) African American Vernacular Traditions: oral histories, folktales, songs and ring rhymes, riddles, the dozens (a verbal competition of insults).

The next paragraph is when she says, "These spaces, which I'm filling in, and can fill in because they were planned, can conceivably be filled in with other significances.” She's talking about what her intent was and what she was thinking of as she was writing, but also the room and freedom she allows for the reader to move about in the narrative, and think, and ponder, make connections, and draw her own conclusions. Participant: I think it's the opposite of what's happening in .

There really is this wide open sense of what individual readers will bring to the narrative. The choices of names speaks to a particular time, but also to social conventions.To review: Morrison begins "Unspeakable Things" by talking about literary canons. It is somehow separate from them and they from it, and …She observes that “There is something called American literature that, according to conventional wisdom, is certainly not Chicano literature, or Afro-American literature, or Asian-American, or Native American, or . this separate confinement, be it breached or endorsed, is the subject of a large part of these debates.” (1) In many ways, Morrison’s fiction has acted as a bridge between Black writing and the American literature that for years was taught only as works by dead white male authors.It is a composition of color that heralds Milkman's birth, protects his youth, hides its purpose, and through which he must burst (through blue Buicks, red tulips in his waking dream, and his sisters’ white stockings, ribbons, and gloves) before discovering that the gold of his search is really Pilate’s yellow orange and the glittering metal of the box in her ear." There’s a lot going on there!She uses those colors, thrown in here and there, to vividly describe scenes, but also as a part of this larger project that she's engaged in—a critique of American society and the ways that African Americans are asked to participate but are also excluded in different ways. Participant: It seems like every third or fourth girl born in the Midwest in 1962 must have been named Susan. Giselle Anatol: So there is the idea of a generation and culture.And then comes a part that I think is striking: "The composition of red, white, and blue in the opening scene provides the national canvas/flag upon which the narrative works and against which the lives of these black people must be seen…." As you remember, the opening scene has the red petals that the girls have made that are fluttering all over the white snow and also the image of the blue wings. That's very intentional, the red, white, and blue imagery.Morrison goes on to state that this national canvas—this ideology of American patriotism, and mainstream conceptions of what it means to be American—“must not overwhelm the enterprise the novel is engaged in.Blending the past with the present and the future, this bestowing the name of an ancestor or a historically significant name respects and honors the past members of the family but also illustrates the traits, hopes, and dreams that the parents are trying to pass on to the child for the future. But when I got married and went to get my birth certificate, it was spelled Gladdie. There’s your individual family history but also this larger history. Participant: Your name extends your tiny self to larger historical and social forces. I thought the way the name was shortened was interesting. Giselle Anatol: Ethnicity and culture are either explicit or hidden. We'll talk more about that when we discuss this book and about names that are changed as people move through the system.Is there anything else a name can tell us about a person or other ways that names function? Gladys is a very old name, so all the people I know who are named Gladys are either very old or dead. Back in that time, you could change your name to the correct spelling. Giselle Anatol: We observe here how the name Gladys is supposed to mean something specific—a connection to your aunt—as it was transferred to you, but your later reading of the misspelling of it opens it up and explodes it in different ways. Participant: My first name's Linda, which means pretty. The history of my name resonates with a lot of the stories that you are telling.At the bottom of that second paragraph, Morrison mentions how a "temporal, political, and culturally specific program” can (and by extension, experience, whether that be a middle class, white, and/or male experience, has come to represent what's universal—what everyone understands and recognizes.Is it universal because it is truly common to all people, or is it universal because these are the books that are celebrated, and taught in schools, and held up as the signs of a good education?


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