Narrative Properties in Toni Morrison's Beloved

2019-03-29T07:22:08Z (GMT) by Adam Jabbur

This essay places Toni Morrison’s Beloved into conversation with John Locke’s labor theory of property and Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. I argue that Morrison adapts the Enlightenment tropes often found in slave narratives to her own postmodern project, creating a novel that not only refigures the Enlightenment tradition, but also searches for ways to reconcile African-American literary history with African Americans’ historical exclusion from the rights and protections, including that of self-ownership, championed by liberal philosophy. As Morrison examines the implications of locating a seminal component of her own literary tradition within an historically adverse intellectual framework, she demonstrates the capacity of narrative to synthesize competing ideological paradigms and fashion visionary imaginings of the future.