Essay on Toni Morrison
Number of words: 1335
Toni Morrison is a both Pulitzer and Nobel prize winner as an American novelist. She was born on February 18th, 1931 in Ohio, specifically, Lorain. Apart from writing novels, she is a professor and editor and her literary books are known for epic themes, excellent articulated language, and properly formulated African-American characters who play a central part in most of her books. Just to mention but a few, some of her best-known books include Sula, Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eyes, Beloved, A Mercy, and Jazz Love. Therefore, the paper seeks to explore Morrison based on her career life as well as her skills in literary writings. Toni Pulitzer a well-recognized American decent with success in writing novels, especially her unique use of language and epic themes and best recognized for her prowess in academics.
BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Morrison was the second of the four children in their family born to Ramah Wofford and George Wofford. She grew up during the Great Depression that hit America in the 1930s, which was characterized by times of severe economic tantrums. As a result, her father supported the family for over seventeen years by working three jobs. As she grew up, her life was occupied by African-American folklore, rituals, music, and mythologies. In some of her books, she denotes that her family was intimate with some of the supernatural happenings and they frequently used visions and symbols to predict the future occurrences. Based on her lifestyle while young, she became entrenched into storytelling, which then inspired her ability to start writing. She was inspired by various authors such as Leo Tolstoy and Jane Austen.
In the year 1949, Morrison attended Howard University located in Washington D.C. where she learned English. It is where she was prompted to change her name to Toni since people had a problem pronouncing her former name, Chloe. While studying at the University, she was a member of Howard University Players, which was a theatre company presenting lives of African-American individuals. In 1953, she received a bachelor of arts degree in English. Afterward, in 1955, she proceeded to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. She then taught for two years at Texas Southern University based in Houston and later on returned to Howard to lecture.
Away from educational life, she met with Harold Morrison, an architect from Jamaica who also lectured at the University. They got married in 1958 and had two sons named Slade and Ford before they divorced in 1964. Afterward, she relocated to Syracuse, and she began working as an editor. It is this environment, which turned her attention into a novelist. She then moved to New York City to work for Random House as an editor. Eventually, she attained the position of senior editor, and she was the only African-American to have acquired that job and status in that particular industry. At the same time, Morrison lectured on various universities and colleges across the country and wrote many novels.
Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, published in 1970 was one of the remarkable books she ever wrote, and she did it while she was part of the writer’s group at Howard University. The story digs into an African American girl who had a wish her eyes were blue and that it would have added a different beauty image. Noteworthy, thirty years later, the novel still managed to capture a universal audience, and it was selected to be an Oprah Winfrey Book Club selection. Sula was published in 1977 and was nominated for the award of National Book Awards. Song of Solomon was her third book written in 1977, and it managed to win National Book Critics Circle Award held in the same year. It was one of the most successful novels of all times as it was chosen as the second best piece of literary work by African American in a book of the month selection. Tar Baby, published in 1981, won Pulitzer award in 1988. Other books such as Jazz indicated her expertise when it comes to writing novels. It was written in 1992 and then followed by Paradise in 1997.
In all her writings, Morrison often writes her books carefully to produce strong emotional responses from the audience readers. In this sense, she makes use of poetic phrases, which adds flavor to the novels. The characters in her stories are often portrayed to be mindful of the world they exist in (Moore 56). in most cases, Morrison makes use of subjects such as good and evil, hate and love, death, friendship, romance, beauty and ugliness, and other themes that may matter. In all almost all novels, she makes use of African American characters to come up with a thrilling storyline.
A novel, Beloved, touches on a story about life after slavery. It was considered one of the Morrison’s masterpiece of all time as it earned her Nobel Prize for literature. Notably, the Nobel committee denoted Beloved as an outstanding piece of work of that time in 1993 (Hayes 214). Together with Slade, her son, they published The Big Box¸ a novel, which touched on the lives of children and their parents and the manner in which the elderly may deter the independence of the young ones. On the whole, it looks into rules and values that make up the coexistent of a family. As aforementioned in her historical background, storytelling was typical in her life as she grew up and it replicated the same in the novels. It makes up the heart of her narration skills to engage the audience who may be interested in reading her book.
On brief summation of methodologies, Toni Morrison makes use of unique language, and her work is easy to read and understand. She often makes use of different styles when writing such as switching the narration voice in her entire writing to change perspectives. She commonly makes use of descriptive analogies as well as relevant historical references. Also, the use of varied sentence structure is rampant in most of his novels. Morrison is well-known for her utilization of unusual yet proper comparisons that reveal further account to details in the story. Specifically, she makes use of similes in all her stories to assist the reader in linking the content with substitute images and experiences. For example, in one of her famous books, Song of Solomon, Morrison describes the church’s atmosphere that the “words tossed like stones into a silent canyon (Tally 122).” Another example is present in The Bluest Eyes in which Pecola Breedlove listens to the fight of her parents. In her description, she used analogies to describe the atmosphere of the battle.
Toni Morrison is one of the most successful novelists in America with most of her work touching on African American storyline. Her topmost academic achievement and title is a professor in English. Most of her lifestyle concentrated on lectures and writing, which she did very well. As a novelist, Morrison made use of different styles such as analogies, similes, voice variations, storytelling and much more. Notably, most of her characters were African American descent. Also, she received various prizes including Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner. Besides she received other significant awards for recognition of her exemplary writing work. Her important subjects included good and evil, death, friendship, beauty and ugliness, and much more. On the whole, Morrison success entirely depended on her unique use of language and the proper use of characters in the story.
Hayes, Jennifer L. “Reading Contemporary African American Literature: Black Women’s Popular Fiction, Post-Civil Rights Experience, and the African American Canon.” (2015): 212-215.
Moore, Geneva Cobb. Maternal Metaphors of Power in African American Women’s Literature: From Phillis Wheatley to Toni Morrison. University of South Carolina Press, 2017.
Tally, Justine. “Toni Morrison and Literary Tradition.” Miscelánea: A Journal of English and American studies 52 (2015): 121-125.