Tuesday, April 12, 2022

"Loving small" and "what's left to love" in Toni Morrison's "Beloved" and "Jazz"

In Toni Morrison's "Beloved" (1987), Paul D learns to limit his emotions in a work camp for enslaved men in Georgia: "So you protected yourself and loved small. Picked the tiniest stars out of the sky to own; lay down with head twisted in order to see the loved one over the rim of the trench before you slept." Only the smallest objects of desire are safe for an enslaved man: "Anything bigger wouldn't do." But even when free women discuss love in 1926 in Morrison's "Jazz" (1992), Alice Manfred's advice to Violet Trace echoes Paul D's lesson: "You got anything left to you to love, anything at all, do it." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 12 April 2022)

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