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Indeterminacy of Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Author ZhanXiaoMing
Tutor KeJianHua
School Wuhan University of Technology
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords indeterminacy Beloved plot characterization theme
CLC I712.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2012
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Toni Morrison is generally acknowledged as one of the most prominent women novelists in contemporary American literature. As a black woman, she breaks through the constraints of traditional writing and "gives life to an essential aspect of American reality", and thereupon she was awarded the Novel Prize in1993.Among all her grand works, Beloved, her fifth novel which helps her win the Pulitzer Prize in1988, is viewed as her masterpiece. Since the publication of Beloved, critics have tired constantly to unravel and explore the ideological contents and artistry of Beloved from various perspectives, such as theme, narrative strategy, feminist and psychological approaches. However, though it is regarded as a postmodern novel, the indeterminacy, one of the main characteristics of American postmodernist fiction, contained in Beloved has been rarely touched upon. If any, the studies only center on the indeterminacy of Beloved’s identity.Morrison’s purpose goes far beyond rewriting the story of infanticide in novel form. To reach the purpose of revealing the psychological legacy of slavery and rewriting a history for those voiceless, she adopts the concept of postmodern indeterminacy. Indeterminacies in Beloved cover characterization, language, plot, image and theme, of which this thesis will make a concentrative explanation about the indeterminacy of plot, characterization and theme by thorough textual analysis according to the definition of indeterminacy by Ihab Hassan and the indeterminacy writing principle concluded by Chen Shidan and Wang Yuechuan, and thus figure out the connections and functions of these indeterminacies. Through the analysis, it is found that the indeterminacies contained in Beloved is like a illogical interlock which need the attentive participation of readers to destruct and reconstruct the whole story, hence restoring Morrison’s original intention.This thesis offers an interpretation of Beloved from a new viewpoint and testifies again that Morrison fully deserves her reputation as a Nobel Prize winner.

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