Tar Baby, by Toni Morrison


Toni Morrison loves to tell to tell stories and this one is about the love between two Black Americans Jadine and Son.  Jadine Childs is a beautiful Sorbonne graduate and fashion model. Son is a black fugitive and strong-minded man who came from the Caribbean to New York. He represents everything that Jadine hates and yet she is attracted to him. They have an affair but can’t find a place where they both fit.


Morrison uses their relationship to show the struggles between not just blacks and whites but between blacks themselves as well as the masters and servants in society.

Another major theme in Tar Baby is the conflict between nature and civilization. Morrison adds to the conflict by giving nature human like qualities.  An example is when she describes the strength of the water in the harbor as the assertive push of a women’s hand.


“At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don't need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens — that letting go — you let go because you can.”

“It was a silly age, twenty-five; too old for teenaged dreaming, too young for settling down. Every corner was a possibility and a dead end.”

“I wonder if the person he wants to marry is me or a black girl? And if it isn't me he wants, but any black girl who looks like me, talks and acts like me, what will happen when he finds out that I hate ear hoops, that I don't have to straighten my hair, that Mingus puts me to sleep, that sometimes I want to get out of my skin and be only the person inside-- not American-- not black-- just me?”

All narrative begins for me as listening. When I read, I listen. When I write, I listen—for silence, inflection, rhythm, rest.”

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Tar Baby
By Toni Morrison