How does Toni Morrison’s Home challenge dominant historical narratives shaped by white supremacy, patriarchy, and/or militarized patriotism?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In this powerful novel the word "home" is of course centred upon, and what Morrison does is to profoundly deconstruct what is meant by home. By exploring the life of Frank Money, a returning soldier who fails to reintegrate into life in the US after fighting in Korea. The dominant historical white and patriarchal narratives are questioned and challenged by the realities of life faced by Frank, both in the present, as he seeks to find and rescue his sister, Cee, and also in the past, as their childhood is explored. In both present and past, Morrison explores and explodes any warm, comforting notion of what "home" might mean, as even as a child aged 4 he and his family were chased out of Bandera County by hooded men. As a result he grew up having to care for his younger sister whilst his parents worked 16 hour days picking cotton and also trying to defend himself and Cee from his grandparents. In addition, the realities of life in America for African-Americans are presented, as Frank, as he makes his journey towards his sister, confronts fellow African-Americans who have been the victims of tremendous violence for simply trying to purchase coffee from a white esablishment. As Frank tries to find an illusory "home," a repeated refrain is used in the novel:

Whose house is this? Whose night keeps out the light In here? Say, who owns this house? It’s not mine. I dreamed another, sweeter, brighter With a view of lakes crossed in painted boats; Of fields wide as arms open for me. This house is strange. Its shadows lie. Say, tell me, why does its lock fit my key?

This quote both highlights the way in which Frank is not able to feel at "home" in his country, therefore rewriting history from the perspective of a black male who was not allowed to feel at home in his home country and furthermore, Morrison suggests, represents a huge group of Americans who were never nurtured or allowed to develop worth in themselves and their own abilities. Morrison in this novel, as in her other novels, presents a more nuanced version of history that is not dominated by a white American perspective.

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