پایان نامه رشته زبان انگلیسی:The Quest for Racial Identity In Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon Under the Light of Derridean Deconstruction

متن کامل پایان نامه مقطع کارشناسی ارشد رشته :زبان انگلیسی

عنوان : The Quest for Racial Identity In Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon Under the Light of Derridean Deconstruction

 

Islamic Azad University

Central Tehran Branch

Faculty of Foreign Languages

Department of Postgraduate Studies

 

Subject:

The Quest for Racial Identity In Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon Under the Light of Derridean Deconstruction

A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Postgraduate Studies as a Partial Fulfillment for the Degree of MA in English Literature

Advisor:

Dr. Hasan Shahabi

Reader:

Dr. Jalal Sokhanvar

Spring 2013

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Abstract

This study aims at close reading and investigating the popular novel of Toni Morrison (1931), Song of Solomon (1977). The appealing idea of rereading the text which is a notable instance of Afro-American fiction concentrating on the question of racial identity from a deconstructive perspective has become the base of the present project. The researcher attempts to analyze and investigate the novel through the viewpoint of Derridean deconstructive methodology. Derrida as a post-structuralist thinker attempts to challenge the whole pre-determined binary structures which are decided to rule through various contexts and discourses. He tries to deconstruct the presupposed binary oppositions in the traditional western discourse such as white/ black that is considered to be one of the identity constituents of the cultural discourse. For Derrida subjects are the products of a wavering, differential and deferral system of signs. Undertaking this argument, the thesis attempts to show that how systems and discourses, which are assumed to be fixed and authentic, are vulnerable to the deconstruction and redefinition. Finally, the study extends Derrida’s ideas of deconstruction to the notion of identity as a cultural construct and particularly to the racial identity in western discourse. The study advantages the deconstructive approach through investigating one of the greatest products of African- American literature Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. Extending Derrida’s deconstruction to literature and literary reading with close attention to the African- American literary context the thesis thus attempts at applying deconstruction to the investigation of the black identity in Song of Solomon. Indeed, in Morrison’s novel the blacks are in search of their true identity in the racialized white society in order to escape the alienation which has surrounded their lives.

Key words: black identity, white hegemony, racial society, deconstruction, reconstruction, redefinition of identity.

 

                      Table of Contents

Abstract

Acknowledgment

Chapter One: Introduction                                                                                                         1

1.1. General Background                                                                                                           2

1.1.1. An Introduction to Afro- American Cultural Identity                                         3

1.1.2. African- American Literature and Black Aesthetics                                           4

1.1.3. Toni Morrison an Afro- American Writer                                                           4

1.1.4. Deconstruction and Deconstructive Reading                                                       5

1.1.4.1. Deconstruction the Theory and Deconstructing Literature                   6

1.1.4.2. Deconstructing Afro- American Literature and Song of Solomon as a Working Model            7

  • The Argument 9
  • Methodology and Approach      11
  • Literature Review      14
  • Research Outline                        17
  • Definition of Key Terms 18

Chapter Two: Afro- American World of Literature and Deconstruction                                20

2.1. African-American World                                                                                                  21

 2.1.1. African Soul                                                                                                        22

 2.1.2. Black Identity out of Slavery                                                                              25

  1. 2. Racism in Development of Afro-American literature     28
  2. 2. 1. Historical Development of African- American Literature                       29
  3. 2. 2. Racial Identity in African- American Literature                          32

2.3. Construction of Collective Identity in Toni Morrison’s Narrative                                    36

2.4. Theoretical Concept: Deconstruction                                                                                37

  1. 4.1. Deconstruction and Literature                                                                          40
  2. 4.2. The Language of African- American Literature and Racial Identity       42

Chapter Three: Construction and De-construction of Identity in Morrison’s Fiction              46

3.1. Toni Morrison’s Fiction Depicting African- American Identity                                       48

3.2. Toni Morrison Deconstructing African-American Literature and Black Identity            53

3.3. A Critical Review of Song of Solomon: A Deconstructive Narration of the Black          55

3.3. 1. Formation of Identity in Song of Solomon                                                        60

  1. 3.1.1. Milkman Dead Reconstructing Identity in Gold Quest 60
  2. 3.1.2. Macon Dead Constructing Identity in World of Wealth and White 62
  3. 3.2. Tension and Paradox in the Construction of Individual and Collective Identity

            in Toni Morrison’s Narrative                                                                           68

Chapter Four: Black Narrative Signifying Racial Identity                                                       72

  1. 1. The Mythic and the Historic, Fiction and Reality in Song of Solomon             73
  2. 2. The Urban and the Rural: Space in Identity Formation 78
  3. 3. Black Manhood, Black Femininity in Morrison’s Narrative 89

Chapter Five: Conclusion                                                                                                         96

5.1. Summing Up                                                                                                                     97

5.2. Findings                                                                                                                           106

5.3. Suggestions for further reading                                                                                       108

Works Cited                                                                                                                            111

Works Consulted                                                                                                                    116

Chapter One

Introduction

1.1. General Background

All through the history of western culture, the ruling system has based the structure of society on categorization primarily. Through such a structural system, the dominancy has belonged to the white population regarding the oppositional categorization of white majority and black minority. Therefore, the black identity has been denied and suppressed through a long history of slavery and marginalization by the authoritarian ideology, socially, culturally and politically. Nevertheless, there has been a vital need for the black identity, such as African-American, to raise voice against such imposed oppression upon its life and gain the true position that it required in the western society. Searching through the process of African-American’s endeavour to present its own voice, history, culture and tradition, a variety of expressive forms emerges such as slave songs, autobiographical fictions, political and motivating speeches, rap or jazz music and films dedicated to the lives of the blacks. Through this process of self-recognition and self-expression, the African-American writers also find the inevitable impression of writing in recovering the denied black history. Toni Morrison, thus as an African-American living in the white dominated culture, is not exceptional regarding the job to recover the denied identity of the black through story narration.

1.1. 1. An Introduction to Afro-American Cultural Identity

In the words of Manning Marable:

Identity is not something our oppressors forced upon us. It is a cultural and ethnic awareness we have collectively constructed for ourselves over hundreds of years. This identity is a cultural umbilical cord connecting us with Africa. (quoted in Campbell and Kean 71)

The western master/slave system was grounded in denial of black history, identity, humanity, community, knowledge and language. This denial was, therefore, a method of control, a device to impose the norms and values of the majority on the minority group who were derided because of an inherited European view of the African as inferior. African-American Cultural identity has been the struggle to position oneself rather than be positioned by others. In 1965, during the struggles for civil rights, and consequently the political demands for Black Power in the 1960s, black people were going to use the words of their own to indicate a strong stream of resistance which was conveyed through the arts of expression, especially song and story-telling. Interestingly the use of memory has become central to this process for it allows the inclusion of stories excluded from the versions of white history. Thus through the appraisal of black memory the black identity regains its cultural roots in which its identity is grounded (Campbell and Kean 71-78).

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