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Postmodernism in Beloved (Toni Morrison)

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Barney Wei

on 19 April 2016

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Transcript of Postmodernism in Beloved (Toni Morrison)

Role of a Man
...and Paul D's sought for manhood
What is Post-Modernism?
Moral Ambiguity
Post-modernism in the Modern Day
Role of a Mother
impact on children
The tale of Rucel, an under-appreciated artist.
Thank You for Watching
- Harry,
"When the four horsemen came—schoolteacher, one nephew, one slave catcher and a sheriff—the house on Bluestone Road was so quiet they thought they were too late" (Morrison 148)
in "Beloved", by Toni Morrison
Biblical Allusions in Beloved
Whether an action is right or wrong is a man-made concept. One cannot definitely say whether something is the correct or incorrect course of action according to post-modernism

"And if she thought anything, it was No. No. Nono. Nonono. Simple. She just flew. Collected every bit of life she had made, all the parts of her that were precious and fine and beautiful, and carried, pushed, dragged them through the veil...where no one could hurt them...where they would be safe" (Morrison 192)
-A mother has a great influence on the fate of their child
-The definition of a mother is always changing in our society
Suspicion of reason.
Focuses on the subjectivity of an answer: multiple answers to a single question.
More of a methodology than a philosophy: a way of thinking about things rather than the physical concept.
Reluctance to see everything as a binary, to see everything for more than it is; ex. gender.
Works Cited
"Mister was allowed to be and stay what he was. But I wasn't allowed to be and stay what I was. Even if you cooked him you'd be cooking a rooster named Mister. But wasn't no way I'd ever be Paul D again, living or dead. Schoolteacher changed me. I was something else and that something was less than a chicken sitting in the sun on a tub."
-"Beloved, she my daughter. She mine.See. She come back to me of her own free will and I don't have to explain a thing"
(Morrison 236)
-"I'll tend her as no mother ever tended a child, a daughter"
(Morrison 236)
“After that she became as colour conscious as a hen” (Morrison 46)

“...so sick with the absence of women they had taken to calves” (Morrison 12)
"she didn't deliver sermons or preach—insisting she was too ignorant for that—she called and the hearing was heard" (Morrison 208)
Image Credits
Good or Evil Scale: http://megan-a-foo.tumblr.com/post/111044197945/hero-villain-or-both-joaquin-murieta-as-a
Iron Bit: http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part1/images/1iron0147b.jpg
Movie Cover: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120603/
Novel cover Page: http://www.amazon.com/Beloved-Toni-Morrison/dp/1400033411
Screenshot: http://gawker.com/state-senator-emails-ap-english-teacher-to-offer-his-th-1768979425
“Down by the stream in back of 124 her footprints come and go, come and go. They are so familiar. Should a child, an adult place his feet in them, they will fit. Take them out and they disappear again as though nobody ever walked there. By and by all trace is gone, and what is forgotten is not only the footprints but the water too and what it is down there”
"White people believed that whatever the manners, under every dark skin was a jungle. Swift unnavigable waters, swinging screaming baboons, sleeping snakes, red gums ready for their sweet white blood. In a way . . . they were right. . . . But it wasn’t the jungle blacks brought with them to this place. . . . It was the jungle whitefolks planted in them. And it grew. It spread . . . until it invaded the whites who had made it. . . . Made them bloody, silly, worse than even they wanted to be, so scared were they of the jungle they had made. The screaming baboon lived under their own white skin; the red gums were their own."
- metaphor, all african americans were savage in nature which is depicted through the animal imagery (swinging screaming baboons)
- jungle symbolizes the wild (wild also like “wild eyes" ) which shows the stereotype of how all blacks are insane and out of control and the whites are required to tame them and bring them under their control; the sleeping snakes signify how the blacks can turn wild and dangerous at a moment’s notice just like how the sleeping snakes can suddenly wake up
- Slavery is so demeaning that it strips its victims of any sort of an identity that would shape them as a person
- in Paul D’s eyes, he is worth less than a rooster as such an animal has more worth than he does
- this is most likely his own self worth
- rooster —> male —> even roosters have freedom and not Paul D —> males should even more possess dominance in their own lives —> Paul D questions his masculinity.
“She never mentioned or looked at it, so he did not have to feel the shame of being collared like a beast. Only this woman Sethe could have left him his manhood like that” (Morrison 322)

“I want you pregnant, Sethe. Would you do that for me?” (Morrison 151)
-Four horsemen in the Bible seen as evil.
-Baby Suggs preaches about black independance rather than sermons and preachings.
• Slavery was introduced by the Dutch in
when they brought captured Africans to the US.
-> Since then, the black community became suppressed by the system of slavery and was frequently subjected to torture.
• Morrison uses
to remind the modern society on the true colours of slavery in the recent American history.

relates to postmodernism in two ways:
1. Reinstate focus on slavery and its cruelty when the topic is suppressed by many.
2. Challenges standards and expectations of school boards of whether to ban or not to ban the novel from school use.
• Beloved symbolizes the entire Black community who were once repressed by slavery.
-> Explains how any child or adult from Cincinnati could fit Beloved’s footsteps using their own.
• Water Motif:

symbolizes birth, renewal and transformation
1) Denver was born on the Ohio River.
2) Beloved came from water and returns to it.
3) Sethe feels the urge to urinate after seeing Beloved for the first time.
• Thesis:

The fading away of slavery is inevitable and is expedited by those who want to forget, but Morrison attempts to slow it down through
-> Postmodernism: counters the social norm of forgetting the past and focusing on the future.
"Beloved: Paul D's Journey to Define Manhood." BRAIN DRAIN. 2006. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
Cush, Andy. "State Senator Emails AP English Teacher to Offer His Thoughts on Beloved (Too Many Breasts)." Gawker. MARKMONITOR INC., 6 Apr. 2016. Web. 7 Apr. 2016.
"Django Unchained, Review." Den of Geek. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
Duignan, Brian. "Postmodernism." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
Jeffries, Stuart. "Postmodernism: The 10 Key Moments in the Birth of a Movement." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2011. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
Kruger, Barbara. "Barbara Kruger: Belief+Doubt - Hirshhorn Museum." Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
Lewis, Liz. "The 'monstrous Potential of Love'. Moral Ambiguity in Toni Morrison's Beloved and Jazz." Toni Morrison's Beloved and Jazz. Moral Ambiguity: The Monstrous Potential of Love. N.p., Dec. 2001. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
"Projects to Try." Pinterest. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
Staff, History.com. "Slavery in America." History.com. A+E Networks, 2009. Web. 7 Apr. 2016.
Utzon, Jorn. "Metaphor: An Aspect of Postmodern Architecture." All Articles RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
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