Tuesday, February 23, 2021

"A litany of humiliation" turned into humor in Toni Morrison's "Song of Solomon"

Just as the conversation of Cholly Breedlove's Aunt Jimmy and her friends during her illness in Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" becomes "a threnody of nostalgia about pain", the men at Tommy's Barbershop in Morrison's "Song of Solomon" respond to the news of Emmett Till's murder in 1955 with an increasingly personal lamentation: “The men began to trade tales of atrocities, first stories they had heard, then those they’d witnessed, and finally the things that had happened to themselves. A litany of personal humiliation, outrage, and anger turned sicklelike back to themselves as humor.” Both these responses offer catharsis, in one as a kind of music, in the other as comedy. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 23 February 2021)

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