Tar Baby Chapter 5: Questions and Answers

Toni Morrison

Chapter 5: Questions and Answers

1. Jadine is black; yet she calls the intruder a “nigger.” What do you think she means by this epithet?

2. What does Valerian remember about his childhood laundress?

3. Why does Michael search out other cultures, inferior ones according to Valerian, to live with?

4. What talent or knowledge possessed by Son impresses Valerian?

5. What is Therese’s attitude toward Son?

6. How did Son earn his first dime? What did he buy with it?

7. What does Sydney mean when he says, “White folks play with Negroes”?

8. What would Michael think about Son and about Valerian’s treatment of the intruder?

9. What did Alma Estee want Son to send her from America?

10. Why is Ondine not cooking the Christmas dinner?

Answers
1. When Jadine thinks of the intruder as a “nigger,” she is expressing the white bigot’s negative attitude about a black. The intruder does not appear educated. He behaves in a common way, insulting her with his crude language, and has animal habits.

2. Valerian recalls his daily conversations with the laundress, who always asked him, “What your daddy doin’ today?” When his father died, the laundress helped Valerian get through his loss by putting him to work scrubbing pillowcases. She was fired for her “therapeutic” treatment.

3. Michael sought other cultures to live with because he seemed...

(The entire section is 452 words.)