It’s never easy to put words to such a dynamic loss of literature and language or put on a brave face and walk forward. Toni Morrison, a much celebrated author, belonging to the Afro-American community, writing about the truthful atrocities that damaged the black population of the State of America and other parts of the world gave a voice to the repressed and a bold criticism to the oppressed. Her writings were an open door towards the racism that humankind still fails to counter, and she had penned down the same outrage that raved severely at that time.
A contemporary writer of 70’s, she put a light on the ‘white and black’ distinction, slavery, and blatant discrimination, which led the Africans to set up a separate community and fight for their rights and for what is fair, through her character’s eyes in a powerful manner which talks about the crudeness of the time. Born as Chloe Ardelia Wofford, in Lorain, Ohio, United States in a working-class family to Ramah and George Wofford, she was the 2nd child of four siblings. Growing up at a time when racism saw its most devastating effects on world, she was more affected than influenced by the cruel propaganda.
Her first novel ‘The Bluest Eye’, depicts a melancholic tale of a black girl longing for blue eyes which has been sadly ingrained inside the protagonist whose definition of beauty has been challenged from a young age resulting her to accept the significant ‘blue eyes’ as a defense to her unloved black skin. This book marked her contribution to the literary world and engraved her name in the American literature. In 1977 with ‘Songs of Solomon’ she garnered national recognition and critical acclamation with National Book Critic Circle Award.
Her priority being throughout her writing career on the subject of her own beloved community and it’s struggles of humanity, which did meet with criticism for the gory truths it possessed, but her voice could never be silenced. The ‘Beloved’ trilogy, consisting of ‘Beloved’ (1987), ‘Jazz’ (1992) and ‘Paradise’ (1997) became an overwhelming success, which earned her the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and American Book Award in 1988. Her contributions to the literature with the history and culture of the African-American popularity was vividly reflected in the first two parts, and with ‘Jazz’ imitating the rhymes of the jazz music originating from the Afro-American culture got the perfect honor of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. From 1989 until her retirement in 2006, Morrison held the Robert F. Goheen Chair in the Humanities at Princeton University.
‘Beloved’, which deals with the true story of Margaret Garner, an African-American woman in the chilling premise of the pre-Civil War era, and her conflicting decision to kill her own daughter being enslaved just before trying to end her own life; became an international success and her storytelling and execution of words were severely praised by the world. When Oprah Winfrey asked for the screen adaptation of the book, and even after the failure of the film at the box office for its lengthy dramatic approach, but the ‘Oprah Effect’ did work the much appreciated magic to reach out to a very important audience. Among her later contributions, ‘Home’ (2015) was a personal challenge and a dedication to her late son Slade Morrison.
At the age of 88, at Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx, New York City on August 5, 2019, the fighter battled through her final battle against Pneumonia as she concluded her potential journey, but her legacy will continue to keep her alive and remembered, enlightening readers to question the disparities. “If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it,'' as she expressed her vision through her words to reach a wider audience and engage them to think from the open ends to her writings, the world severely grieves the loss of a rebel and woman of strong opinions. Her beautiful words urged for a better world as she stated, “At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough.”; and parts her way from the literary world with hope in her wake.