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American Literature | English Language and Literature


Nancy Hynes, OSB


The mythic form of the American journey in American literature, which developed from the frontier experience of white male settlers, embraces separatism, escape and isolation as valid options for the exploration of personal identity. For people who are neither white nor male, this definition of journey and this exploration of identity prove an impossibly destructive dream. In her novels, Toni Morrison develops a different idea of journey, one which leads the journeyer back to his or her community and to the discovery of identity in relationship, rather than isolation. The journey back to the community is explored in Sula, Song Of Solomon and Beloved, the three novels discussed in the course of the thesis. The journeys undertaken by Morrison's characters are contrasted with the mythical American journey, and the writer concludes that the concept of journey presented by Morrison offers a more humanistic and inclusive social vision than that endorsed by the myth.