Journal article Open Access

Ecocritical Perspectives in Select Novels of Toni Morrison

Maniklal Bhanja; Stella Thomas

An Ecocritical approach demands not just a scientific envisioning of the environment but also a Psychological, Sociological,
Religious and Historical analysis of nature and its manifestations in the work at hand. Morrison weaves all of these strands
together to produce a narrative history of African Americans a history largely ignored by white society. For Morrison nature
is extricating link with religion. All of her writings show the connection between the Biblical Garden of Eden, plagues and
natural Catastrophe. The relationship between nature and religion in the novels will help to illuminate her proposals for
societal healing from historical wounds. In her first novel The Bluest Eye the connection between nature and racial hatred
can be seen very clearly. The Novel Sula is shown the women are nurturing, creative, and destructive powers, powers that
at times reach almost godlike proportion. Morrison shows that the combination of mother and God leads to disaster,
‘Mother’ being a feminine force that traditionally represents creation birthing and nurturing, while ‘God’ embodies the
masculine acts of violence and destruction.The words of Lao Tzu is apt here, ‘We hammer wood for a house, but it is the
inner space that makes it livable’.
African Americans continue to demonstrate Africa’s enduring power, its flexibility and vitality. Toni Morrison’s novel gives
the readers great potential for healing and growth. Teachers serve a vital role in teaching students how to be the
participatory readers necessary for Morrison’s novels. When they do participate actively, students discover that Morrison’s
novels are healing texts-for black students who experience noble representation and for white students who are provided
the opportunity to expand their understanding. In Sula, Morrison subdues the hostile environments destructive potential
by giving her protagonist the power to leave it. In her novels, the values of a unity are the measuring stick for an
Individual’s behaviour. Morrison’s corpus of work presents African Spirituality with its accompanying ideas of duties,
emphasis on nature, representation of ancestor communication, and the importance of unity responsibility –core elements
of spirituality and the backbone of African culture. Africans derived the idea of the natural world as a primary dwelling for
the divine. Under the canopy of the natural world, one has access to God and to the source of one’s ancient properties.
Morrison’s ecocritical work demonstrates her belief in the interconnectedness of nature, religion and African American
identity. Without such an understanding, her works seem to tell a disjointed story of disappointment and destruction; and
when we read ecocritically, it offers hope for creating a better future.

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