In Tony Morrison's Paradise, how does Reverend Misner resist the dominant opinions on race and culture?

Asked on by pcacd001

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belarafon's profile pic

belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Reverend Misner is young compared to many of the authority figures in the town, and as such some people don't fully trust him. Despite the authority and respect conferred on him by his office, Misner struggles to get his points across to people whose ideals are firmly rooted in tradition:

"You all just don't want us to talk at all. Any talk is 'backtalk' if you don't agree with what's being said... Sir."


Pulliam... turned slowly to Misner. "Reverend, can't you keep that boy still?"

"Why would I want to?" asked Misner. "We're here not just to talk but to listen too."

The gasps were more felt than heard.
(Morrison, Paradise, Google Books)

This shows Misner's willingness to accept the ideas and passion of the younger generation, even when it clashes with those of the older generations. He is willing to stand up for more speech and more debate rather than the closed, insular arguments and non-debates of times past.

Later, he has an impassioned argument with Patricia Best, where he argues for the inclusion of African studies to connect children with their past. In Misner's view, he resists the dominant view by believing that the community cannot get past the white-preferred slave mentality unless they are fully aware of their roots; Patricia believes that progressive education is better. Here, Misner goes against the common attitude that non-discussion means past events can be ignored; he wants to bring race relations fully into the light, instead of covering them over. 

alj37's profile pic

alj37 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

You should take a look at the conversation between him and Patricia on pages 209-213.

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