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Justifying the Paradoxical Nature of Mothering in Toni Morrison's Beloved

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Given American obsessions with male mythologies, the writers of American fiction seem to challenge the basic assumptions of American culture. Specially, the Black female writers create and challenge ideals in representing the mother. While on the one hand we see recurring use of the Good mother of mythology, and virtues associated with the life principle (birth, warmth, nourishment, protection, fertility, growth, abundance, etc.). On the other hand. we also see dark and mysterious mothers performing negative roles associated with the Earth Mother. This paper seeks to question the ideals of motherhood and maternity in Black American fiction with special reference to the central mother figure in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and to see if the roles of mother can be analyzed in altruistic terms alone or as something that is determined by the social conditions prevailing at a given moment.
Considerable research has been done on the novels written by black women writers. Writers like Betty Overton (1970), Elwanda Ingram (1980), Karen Gaston (1981), deals with the theme of self discovery in the novels of African-American women writers. On the other hand, Sandra waters Holt (1989), Eunsook Koo (1993), and Claudia Tate (1995) has discussed issues of racial conflict, class and gender using feminist literary theories. Moreover, writers such as Robert Nelson and Lori Stephens (2003), Lea Johanna D. Friedly (2007), Christian J. Faxnum O’ Leary (2008) and Mr. Deborah and Andrea Wolf (2010) have talked about issues relating both racial and theoretical concepts. Andrea O’ Reilly (2004), and Gloria Thomas Pillow (2010), examine motherhood as a patriarchal institution and define the responsibility of a mother dividing it into four interrelated tasks...


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...nability to acknowledge colour reflects how the scene of murdering of her child is embedded in her psyche.



Works Cited

Hays, Sharon. The Cultural Contradictions Of Motherhood. New Haven: Yale UP, 1996. Print
Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. “Social constructions of mothering: A thematic Overview’’. Mothering. Eds. Evelyn Nakano Glenn, G. Chang and Linda R. Forcey. New-York, Routledge, 1994. Print.
Rich, Adrienne. Of Woman Born. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1995.Print.
O’Reilly, Andrea. Toni Morrison And Motherhood: A Politics Of The Heart: Newyork, Suny Press, 2004. Print.
Turnage, Barbara. “The Global Self-Esteem of an African-American Adolescent Female and Her Relationship with Her Mother.” Mothers and Daughters: Connection, Empowerment, and Transformation. Ed. Andrea O’Reilly and Sharon Abbey. Lanham ,Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001. 175–87. Print.



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