On Magic Narrative Technique in Toni Morrison's Beloved

By Jinping, Bao | Cross - Cultural Communication, July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

On Magic Narrative Technique in Toni Morrison's Beloved


Jinping, Bao, Cross - Cultural Communication


Abstract

Toni Morrison is one of the greatest contemporary novelists in American literature. In 1993, she won the Nobel Prize for literature, which made her became the first African-American writer to enjoy this honour. Her fifth novel Beloved is her representative work. This study centered on the magic narrative technique of this novel. First of all, such characteristics of the narrative techniques as the juxtaposition of the past and the present, multi point of view in narration and the ambiguity in narration are analyzed from its magic narrative techniques. This will help us understand Toni Morrison's superb narrative skills and profound ideological content of the novel.

Key Words: Narration; Juxtaposition; Multi point of view; Ambiguity

BAO Jinping (2012). On Magic Narrative Technique in Toni Morrison's Beloved. Cross-Cultural Communication, 8(3), 1-7. Available from URL http://www.cscanada.net/ index. php/ccc/article/view/j. ecc. 1923670020 120803. 477 DOI: http://dx.doi.Org/10.3968/j.ccc. 1923670020120803.477

Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford, in 1931 in Lorain (Ohio), the second of four children in a black working-class family. She displayed an early interest in literature and studied humanities at Howard and Cornell Universities, followed by an academic career at Texas Southern University, Howard University, Yale, and since 1989, a chair at Princeton University. She has also worked as an editor for Random House, a critic, and given numerous public lectures, specializing in AfricanAmerican literature. She made her debut as a novelist in 1970, soon gaining the attention of both critics and a wider audience for her epic power, unerring ear for dialogue, and her poetically-charged and richly-expressive depictions of Black America. Her first novel The Bluest Eye was published in 1970 followed by Sula in 1974, which secured Morrison a nomination for the National Book Award. In 1 977, Morrison won the National Book Critics Circle Award for her book Son of Solomon. Her other works included Tar Boy (1981), Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), Paradise (1998), and Love (2003).

Among them, her fifth novel Beloved is considered the best. Beloved has won 1988 Pulitzer Prize and Robert F. Kennedy Award. In 1993, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for her novel Beloved. Morrison presents a black world that has been neglected for a long period of time because of the white, which arouses the critics' great interest. Beloved is thought to be one of the Morrison's most celebrated and analyzed works. As critic John Leonard concluded in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the novel "belongs on the highest shelf of American literature, even if half a dozen canonized white boys have to be elbowed off.... Without Beloved our imagination of the nations self has a hole in it, big enough to die from".

Beloved, Toni Morrison's fifth novel, was set during the reconstruction era in 1873. Morrison paints a dark and powerful portrait of the dehumanizing effects of slavery. Beloved centers on the powers of memory and history. For the former slaves in the novel, the past is a burden that they desperately and fully try to forget. Yet for Sethe the protagonist of the novel, memories of the past are inescapable. They continue to haunt her, literally, in the spirit of her deceased daughter. Eighteen years earlier, Sethe had murdered this daughter in order to save her from a life of slavery. Morrison borrowed the event from the real story of Margaret Garner, who, like Sethe, escaped from the slavery in Kentucky and attempted to murder all her children and succeeded in killing her baby girl when the slave catchers caught up with her in Ohio. Beloved straddles the line between fiction and history. Through the use of her unique and remarkable style Morrison presents the reader with glimpses of the past which creep through both the cracks in Sethe's memory and the plot of the novel, revealing a desperate act of love more haunting than any baby ghost. …

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