‘The Ancestor as Foundation’ in Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby
Keywords:Black Art, Literary Technique, Folktale Reinvented, Cultural Identity, Colonization
Toni Morrison makes use of elements of ‘Black art’ as a literary technique in her fictional works. She has developed her own theoretical concept of this art in her essays and critical writings. The focus of this paper is to analyze how she applies her theoretical concepts drawn from oral tradition into her fictional works through a study of her characters and storytelling technique in Tar Baby. The novel can be considered a reinvented folktale in which the author has presented relevant complicated issues of identity set against the backdrop of colonization. The paper highlights Morrison’s use of folkloric elements both stylistically and thematically in her recreation of an African American folktale by embedding it in a contemporary tale that reveals the complexity of a postcolonial identity in the face of cultural erosion. Central to this is her concept of ancestral wisdom, found in the ancestors, as a source of cultural identity, which is the major theme of the novel.
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