30. Toni Morrison's Gothic: Headless Brides and Haunted Communes

  1. Charles L. Crow
  1. Maisha L. Wester

Published Online: 13 SEP 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch30

A Companion to American Gothic

A Companion to American Gothic

How to Cite

Wester, M. L. (2013) Toni Morrison's Gothic: Headless Brides and Haunted Communes, in A Companion to American Gothic (ed C. L. Crow), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch30

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 SEP 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 NOV 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470671870

Online ISBN: 9781118608395

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Keywords:

  • 1960s;
  • African American Community;
  • Beloved;
  • Collective Identity;
  • Cultural Identity;
  • Dystopia;
  • intra-racial oppression;
  • Paradise;
  • Patriarchy;
  • Utopia

Summary

This essay examines how Toni Morrison uses gothic tropes to represent intra-racial oppression throughout the African American community in her novel Paradise. More specifically, the essay argues that the “utopian” community of Ruby is warped into a dystopian nightmare because of its essentialized ideologies about cultural identity and gender dynamics. Although the novel uses tropes from magical realism to represent moments of peace, hope, and happiness, such moments are repeatedly undone by the community's oppressive patriarchal “protective” traditions. Morrison specifically turns to gothic tropes to depict these “protective” traditions and the profound violence they produce.