Download Dissenting Fictions: Identity and Resistance in the by Cathy Moses PDF

By Cathy Moses

First released in 2000. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.

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Additional resources for Dissenting Fictions: Identity and Resistance in the Contemporary American Novel

Example text

Sometimes when Violet isn't paying attention she stumbles onto these cracks, like the time when, instead of putting her left heel forward, she stepped back and folded her legs in order to sit in the street. (22-23) Here subjectivity ("herself') and agency ("doing ... things") are simultaneously intimately connected and irreconcilably separated. When she falls into the "cracks," Violet is unable to see herself as an agent, and hence she is unable to function. But as she is drawn deeper into her obsession with Dorcas's photograph, she comes to see something else.

As in Morrison's earlier works, history is articulated through the lives of individuals. The historical moment that Jazz departs from and returns to in the improvisational style that gives the novel its name is the silent march down New York's Fifth Avenue on July 28, 1917. From July first to third, 1917, violent white mobs terrorized East St. Louis, Illinois, killing more than forty black people. The "riots," an eruption into violence of white fear and hatred of black workers, were ostensibly touched off by the employment of black laborers in a factory under government contract.

I examine the function of these absent figures and their relationship to African American history and individual characters' conceptions of identity. Throughout Morrison's fiction, AfriCan American characters construct identities in response to absent or imagined figures who represent significant moments in African American history. The ghost of Sethe's murdered baby in Beloved is the most straightforward example of this phenomenon. 4 In Jazz, nearly every major character is orphaned and desperately searching the bone-yards of American history for an identity.

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