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How does Toni Morrison's Home challenge dominant narratives shaped by white supremacy, patriarchy, or militarized patriotism?

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Toni Morrison's Home explores how systems of white supremacy, patriarchy, and the military displace and uproot the lives of everyday people seeking security and respite from violence. The novel, shifting between first- and third-person narration, centers on the character Frank Money, a Korean War veteran struggling to assimilate back to life in the US after returning home from war. His struggles with alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder reflect the disassociation and unease that impacts so many US war veterans, a theme that complicates and challenges the offers of nationalism and patriotic pride promised by the military to so many young recruits. Morrison repeats this theme of dislocation from the promises of the (white) American Dream throughout her novel, using displacement from home/the land as a metonym for the disenfranchisement of black people in American society.

Frank's family is initially forced to relocate from Bandera County, Texas, to Lotus, Georgia, because of racist segregationist policies. Ironically, this move is what compels Frank to join the military because of the lack of economic opportunities in Lotus. Morrison insinuates that white supremacy, via the bombing and occupations of black and brown countries across the world, is fundamental to American war and American imperialism. Frank unknowingly participates in the dislocation and destruction of the lives and homes of other people of color because the despair wrought by racism in the US leaves him with few other options.

Patriarchy also plays a significant role in the displacement/dislocation of characters in Home, as Frank's sister Cee feels that she cannot return home after an abusive boyfriend abandons her in Atlanta. Home also reflects the intersectional oppressions of race and gender in America, as when Frank's girlfriend, Lily, literally cannot buy a home because she is black and is thereby prevented from exercising economic autonomy as a woman. By narrating the lives and struggles of these characters, Morrison challenges the dominant idea in American culture that freedom and security are given rewards for hard work and patriotism.

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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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