Title

?Love too thick??: Narrative Structure, Reader Response, and Violence in Toni Morrison?s Beloved and Jazz

Authors

Mirin Fader

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Abstract

My project focuses on the two central acts of violence in Beloved and Jazz : Sethe?s infanticide in Beloved and Joe Trace?s murder of his teenage lover in Jazz . First, I will explore how the narrative structures of the two novels (the manner and order in which Morrison reveals the violence in the texts) situate murder alongside love. Specifically, I will examine the narrative structures in the following two ways: first, the order in which the murder is disclosed in the text; second, the effect of the narrator who delivers the murder to the readers. I will assess the narrative structures? effect on readers? preconceptions and values. I will focus on reader response to the acts of violence in terms of narrative ethics, judgment, and empathy. Finally, I will analyze the collaborative and fluid African-American oral tradition employed by Morrison, which cultivates unceasing evaluation from readers by evoking a multiplicity of responses to the text. I will also explore Call and Response: the reciprocal relationship between storyteller and listener (writer and reader) that grants readers responsibility beyond response?the responsibility to co-create meaning within the text. Morrison employs Call and Response to invite judgment while asking readers to defer final judgments. She thereby resists a unified, stable response from her audience to the characters and their violence.

Advisor

Jean Wyatt

Department

ecls

Support

Ford Research Mentors Endowment

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