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On the Theme of Female’s Initiation in a Mercy

Author ZuoXue
Tutor MaYueLan
School Hebei Normal
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords the Bildungsroman initiation identity guides epiphany spiritual freedom
CLC I712.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2012
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Toni Morrison (1931-) is one of the most important and influential writer in American literature and the Nobel Prize for Literature of1993, the first black woman who wins the prize. She always pays great attention to the black woman’s identity in the American society with multiculture and multiethnic.Morrison, as a humanistic female novelist, constantly insists on concerning about growing process of the weak and marginalized black children, especially the little black girls since her first novel The Bluest Eyes was published. In her latest novel A Mercy, Morrison once again explores a black girl’s psychological initiation of her own identity, referring to the slavery in the America of1860s, and talks about how the blacks to get a harmonious life in the special American society. This thesis mainly uses Mordecai Marcus’s theory about the Bildungsroman to explore the initiation process of the protagonist in A Mercy.The first chapter involves the history of the Bildungsroman and the American initiation story, the definitions of the Bildungsroman and its characteristic and narrative frames. According to this analysis, A Mercy is definitely a typical initiation story concerning a little black girl’s psychological initiation.The second chapter explores the guides’influence on the protagonist’s initiation. Guide plays great roles in the protagonist’s initiation. The positive guides can help the protagonist’s initiation, while the negative guides may have a passive influence on the protagonist. In A Mercy because of the protagonist’s social position as a born slave, she gets no paternal and maternal love, which causes her to life in bewilderment, but also leads her to explore her spiritual independence. The positive community love helps Florens to pursue her spiritual freedom. And the guides appearing on Florens’journey help her when she is in trouble. They help Florens to get to know freedom and that she should also be treated as a normal child by others.The third chapter is concerning about the protagonist’s epiphany. Epiphany is the most important element in the Bildungsroman. Florens’sense of inferiority is the reason for her failure in love but also the reason for her epiphany. After being abandoned by her love, Florens gets her epiphany of life and her identity. She chooses the way of writing to relieve herself and reflects her awareness of her women’s consciousness.From the exploration of the novel, this thesis gets a conclusion that A Mercy is a typical initiation exploring the black woman’s identity in the multicultural and multiethnic American society.

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