“The Morrison Quest”: Disturbing the Complacency of the Classical Literary Imagination and Creating Home through Black Experience Público

Murray, Courtney (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/s4655g63d?locale=es
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Abstract

The thesis explores the intersections between classical literature and Toni Morrison’s novels: Beloved, A Mercy, Home, and God Help the Child. The commonality—the quest exists in both—but their differences demonstrate Morrison’s revision of the classical mythological quest, thus, the name, “The Morrison Quest.” The Morrison Quest champions experience and the power of femininity over biased, disconnected, emotional gods and goddesses. She replaces the multiple deities seen in classical mythology with one main experiential figure or elder who oversees a network of ancestral female figures placed permanently in the African American community. Their one main priority is re-establishing the stability of individual and communal bonds. Her women have the strength to unite whole communities, guide and send messages even in the afterlife, and look past racial and gender constrictions to create their own communities. This thesis argues that Morrison creates a myth-experience not only for her characters but for her readers, so that we all can attempt to understand that the quest is a universal human experience where home becomes a fluid, spiritual, and imagined connector between all of us.

Table of Contents

Introduction…………………………………………………………………………...1

Chapter One: Previous Handlings of the Quest and ‘The Morrison Quest’………….3

Chapter Two: “They Grouped, Murmuring and Whispering”: The Elder, her Ancestors, and their Guidance through The Morrison Quest…………………………………………………18

Chapter Three: “Things you could Trust and be Near”: Trees, Streams, Bodies, and Physical Spaces in The Morrison Quest’s Physical Dimension………………………………….40

Conclusion: “Dearly Beloved”: Unifying the Individual and Community and Creating New Understandings of Home……………………………………………………………….63

Works Cited…………………………………………………………………………….66

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