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《柏油娃》小说中非裔美国人的压迫与成长

发布时间:2019-07-25
  摘要
  
  托尼·莫里森(1931-)是第一位获得诺贝尔文学奖的美国黑人女作家。其第四部作品《柏油娃》展现当代美国黑人的生活图景,讲述了非裔美国人在白人社会艰难的成长历程,表达了作者对黑人命运的深切关怀。本论文以亨利·列斐伏尔的空间理论为基础,通过解读作品中人物在不同空间的困惑和探索,分析非裔美国人在多重空间所面临的压迫,并揭示出他们为抵抗压迫获得自身成长所做出的努力。

《柏油娃》小说中非裔美国人的压迫与成长
  
  本论文分为五个章节。第一章简要介绍托尼·莫里森和《柏油娃》,综述国内外学者对莫里森及其作品的研究成果,同时阐释空间理论,最后陈述本论文的主要观点。第二、三、四章是论文的主体部分,每一章探讨在某一特定空间下,空间主体的成长历程。第二章分析了非裔美国人所遭受的生存环境破坏以及居住空间隔离问题,指出回归自然并与祖先建立联系对黑人打破物理空间限制、获得身体解放具有重要意义。第三章解读了非裔美国人心理空间的异化问题,指出非裔美国人唯有解放心理空间,对不同的文化持宽容的态度才能在精神上获得成熟。第四章剖析了非裔美国人在社会空间下冲突的种族关系和边缘化问题,指出传统黑人社区只能提供暂时庇护,无法帮助其实现社会存在,非裔美国人只有融入社会,建立和谐的社会关系,才能实现自我完善,最终获得成长。最后一章是论文的结论部分,提出本文的现实意义。空间塑造在莫里森小说创作中扮演着重要角色。借助《柏油娃》中的多重空间,莫里森展示了非裔美国人为反抗压迫、争取生存空间、获得自身成长所进行的不懈努力;同时,莫里森也呼吁不同种族、不同文化之间,要相互理解、相互包容,从而建立一个没有种族歧视、平等发展的社会。
  
  关键词:  托尼·莫里森;《柏油娃》;空间理论;成长。
  
  ABSTRACT
  
  Toni Morrison (1931- ) is the first Afro-American female writer to be rewarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her fourth novel Tar Baby displays the life of African Americans, presents their tough growth in white-dominated society and expresses her concerns about their development. Based on Henri Lefebvre’s spatial theory, through discussing characters’ bewilderment and exploration, this thesis attempts to explore the oppression on African Americans in multiple spaces and the struggles and efforts which they take to achieve growth.
  
  The thesis consists of five chapters. Chapter One introduces Toni Morrison and Tar Baby, summarizes the researches on Morrison and her work at home and abroad, illustrates the spatial theory, and states the thesis statement. Chapter Two, Three, Four are the body parts, and each chapter explores spatial subjects’ growth in a particular space. Chapter Two analyzes the damage to living environment and the spatial segregation of living space in the restricted physical space and points out the importance of returning to nature and connecting with ancestors for the blacks to break restrictions and obtain bodily liberation. Chapter Three interprets African Americans’ emotional estrangement in the alienated mental space and points out that only to emancipate mental space and embrace diverse cultures can African Americans obtain spiritual maturity. Chapter Four discusses the racial relationship and marginalization in the conflicting social space, and points out that the traditional black community can only shelter them temporarily, but it fails to help them realize social presence. African Americans can only gain individual fulfillment and eventually achieve growth by integrating into society and constructing harmonious social relationship. Chapter Five is concerned with the conclusion and significance of this thesis. Space plays an important role in Morrison’s novels. By employing multiple spaces in Tar Baby, Morrison shows the unceasing struggles and efforts of African Americans to expand their survival space and obtain growth. Meanwhile, Morrisonalso calls for mutual understanding and mutual tolerance among different races and cultures in building a society with equal development and no racial discrimination.
  
  Key Words: Toni Morrison, Tar Baby, spatial theory, growth。
  
  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
 
  First and foremost, my sincere gratitude goes to my dear supervisor, Professor Wang Shaoping, for her patience, encouragement and understanding during the past three years. Her profound professional knowledge and rigorous academic attitude inspire me not only in my study but also in my life. Without her consistent and illuminating instruction, I could not finish my thesis successfully.
  
  Secondly, I also extend my deepest gratitude to Professor Qu Tao, Professor Wang Hui, Professor Lv Chunmei, Professor Li Xuemei and other professors in the School of English Studies of Dalian University of Foreign Languages. Their courses on British and American literature broaden and enrich my horizon. I benefit from their valuable courses.
  
  Thirdly, my heartfelt gratitude goes to my friends Ying Na, Wang SuJia, Liu Cuiying and Wu Jingjing, my classmates Wang Xiaorui, Wei Yiting, Xu Luyang and my roommate Shi Wenrui, for their company and encouragement until this thesis is completed.
  
  Finally, my sincere thanks go to my dearest parents, who have expressed great confidence, support as well as encouragement during my writing and in my life.
  
  CHAPTER I
  
  INTRODUCTION
  
  A. An Introduction to Toni Morrison and Tar Baby

  
  As the leading figure in black literature in the 1970s, Toni Morrison is definitely a distinguished contemporary black female writer; in the meantime, she is an outstanding professor, critic and editor. As an African American woman, she uses her works to describe the bitterness of African Americans that can never be forgotten. In 1993, she won the Nobel Prize in Literature as “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality” (Levinovitz & Ringertz 170), which made her the first Afro-American female writer to win this award.
  
  Born in an ordinary American family in Lorain, Ohio on February 18, 1931, Toni Morrison was originally named as Chloe Anthony Wofford, and later she changed her name as Toni Wofford in college. Having grown up in a traditional African American family with great musical talent and African folklore, she was laid a good foundation for understanding and inheriting black myths, music, and language that cultivated her unique aesthetic standards. The artistic nourishment of the family atmosphere has endowed Morrison with original artistic enlightenment and inheritance of ethnic culture, providing the material ofAfrican culture in her writing.
  
  In 1949, Morrison went to Howard University to study English and classical literature. She graduated with her B.A in 1953. Then she was admitted to Cornell University and obtained her master of arts two years later. The formal education offered her an opportunity to become an excellent writer in the future. For Morrison,the systematic study of mainstream literature and western culture opened up a different world, which inspired her in later writings. In 1965, she was promoted as a senior editor at Random House, and edited a book named The Book of Negros that was honored as an encyclopedia of black history.
  
  In terms of literary creation, Morrison is an eminent, prolific and hardworking writer. In 1970, she cut a striking figure with her first novel The Bluest Eyes. Her second novel Sula (1973) won her praise and created a sensation in the literary world.
  
  Her third book, Song of Solomon (1977) was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1978, and then her work began to win widespread attention in American critics. In 1981, Morrison published her fourth novel Tar Baby, “which leaped into the front ranks of the bestseller list in The New York Times for four months and made her the first African-American woman appearing on the cover of Time”(Tan & Luo 324). Up to now, Morrison has published 11 novels. With her outstanding talent and extraordinary imagination, she has depicted so many lifelike black characters and vivid stories that her accomplishments and dedications to American literature are beyond doubt.
  
  Among all her novels, her fourth book Tar baby functions as a transitional text in Morrison’s oeuvre. While her early works struggle with the effects of colonization onAfrican American individuals and community, her later works move into an exploration of decolonized African American culture and history. Tar baby plays a central role for “periodizing Morrison’s work in relationship to her process of decolonization which clarifies differences between her early and more recent periods and stresses her development across her oeuvre” (Pereira 71). Meanwhile, it is in this novel that Morrison has jumped out of the narrow national complex and accepted the fact with the broad mind that the interdependence of ethnic groups and the maintenance of the national culture are equally important.
  
  Based on a widely spread African folklore, Tar Baby narrates on black culture,history, tradition as well as the interrelationship between the whites and the blacks,male and female, individual and community. In this novel, by exploring the conflicts between two totally different black characters who adhere to their respective cultural beliefs and choices of life, Morrison discusses the difficulties faced by African Americans in their seeking for growth and the complex relationship between black culture and white culture, thereby providing a space for reflection on the relationship between different cultures and different races.
  
  The novel consists of three parts. In part one, the story begins with two black communities in a restricted physical space. Because of the spatial restriction, the blackcommunity turns into two isolated ones with distinct contrasts. One is Sydney family,which represents the civilized blacks who are gradually influenced by white culture and attempts to imitate and approach it. The other is Gideon family, who lives in a poor black slum where the blacks merely conform to black traditions but overly resist white culture. In spite of their diverse spatial practices, both of them fall into severe bewilderment. Therefore, these two families carry out diverse explorations, only to find that returning to nature is the most efficient way to get bodily liberation.
  
  In part two, Morrison mainly deliberates on the psychological difficulties they face in their seeking for growth as well as the complicated relationship between the two cultures. In this part, by portraying Son Green, who sticks to black tradition but is unable to adapt to modern life, and Jadine Childs, who identifies with white culturebut abandons her connections with black ancestors, together with other characters like them, Morrison explores African Americans’ psychological growth in the process ofseeking individual liberation and self-realization.
  
  In part three, Morrison emphasizes the predicaments of African Americans in the whole society. In this part, the author discusses the problematic society where her characters are mistreated due to their colored skin, inferior social status, different ideologies and so forth. Facing these difficulties, Son and Jadine flee from urban north to rural south. However, the enclosed southern rural community is more of a transient refuge that can hardly shelter them forever. In the end, the black characters realize only to participate in society and construct social relationship can they obtain individual fulfillment and eventually achieve growth.
  
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  B. Literature Review on Tar Baby
  C. Theoretical Framework
  D. Thesis Statement
  
  II. AFRICAN AMERICANS’ BODILY LIBERATION IN THE RESTRICTED PHYSICAL SPACE
  
  A. The Bewilderment of Spatial Segregation in White-dominated Living Space
  B. The Exploration in the Oppressed Working Space
  C. Bodily Liberation through Returning to the Mythical Natural Space
  
  III. AFRICAN AMERICANS’ SPIRITUAL MATURITY IN THE ALIENATED MENTAL SPACE
  
  A. The Bewilderment of Emotional Estrangement in theAlienated Mental Space
  B. The Exploration of the Estranged Mental Space
  C. Spiritual Maturity through Emancipating the Closed Mental Space
  
  IV. AFRICAN AMERICANS’ INDIVIDUAL FULFILLMENT IN THE CONFLICTING SOCIAL SPACE
  
  A. The Bewilderment of Racial Relationship in the Conflicting Social Space
  B. The Exploration in the Patriarchal Social Space
  C. Individual Fulfillment through Constructing Harmonious Social Relationship
  V. CONCLUSION

  Furthermore, in the conflicting social space, African Americans are excluded from the whites’ space and plagued by the incompatible interracial and intraracial relationships. Through examining African Americans’ spatial practices in traditional black community, Morrison points out that traditional black community can only shelter them temporarily due to its inherent defects. Only to participate in social space,accept the new changes and construct harmonious social relationship in society can African Americans attain individual fulfillment and achieve growth eventually.

  All in all, in the light of spatial theory, this thesis discusses African Americans’plight in multiple spaces and their endeavors for resisting oppression and achievinggrowth. In Tar Baby, the importance of space in examining African Americans’growth is self-evident. By analyzing individuals’ bewilderment and exploration in physical, mental as well as social space, Morrison puts forward the solutions for African Americans to get rid of predicaments and gain growth in modern society. In the era of globalization, sticking to the cultural traditions of the black world, ignoring the progress of society, and re-entering the closed, poor and backward life cannot help African Americans attain growth; in the meantime, accepting white education entirely and abandoning the original cultural traditions will lose the essential characteristics of black culture and lead to spiritual sterility of African Americans. Therefore, only to embrace the mainstream culture on the basis of adhering to the history and culture of the blacks, participate in society, construct social relationship and live with the whites harmoniously can African Americans get rid of the burden of history, move from the margin to the center and achieve real growth. Meanwhile, Morrison also appeals to create a society where the ethnic groups can be respected and accepted and live with each other equally and harmoniously.

  WORKS CITED

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