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The Suppression of Black Women

Author: ChenLi
Tutor: YanZhongZhi
School: Sichuan International Studies University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: Sula Morrison feminist narratology narrative focalization narrative voice
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2010
Downloads: 220
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Toni Morrison is the only black woman who ever won the Nobel Prize in literature up to now. It signifies not only the formal establishment of Black Literature, but also the development of black female’s literature. The characteristics of her works are her vivid description of African American experiences and powerful diction, which has a great impact on American literature. Sula, her second work, helps Morrion confirm herself as a female writer. It is nominated for the National Book Award. In this novel, Morrison’s concern for the black community and the fate of black women is revealed.The special narrative techniques of the novel have attracted people’s strong attention, as Morrison is famous for her narrative strategies. As few studies in the novel Sula have been done from the feminist narratological perspective, this thesis tries to adopt this theoretical method to analyze Morrison’s narrative strategies practiced in the novel in order to help her achieve her authority as a black female writer and her female ideologies. Feminist narratology has come into being since 1980s. And Susan Lanser is the first one to create that theory. By combing structural narratology and feminist literary criticism, the theory unites the analyses of forms with the study of ideology. The theory adopted in this thesis is based on Susan Lanser’s two monographs, which are Narrative Act: Point of View in Prose Fiction and Fictions of Authority: Women Writers and Narrative Voice.As initiator of feminist narratology, Susan Lanser considers narrative forms as the ground and tool for political struggles. She focuses on two aspects, narrative focalization and narrative voice, from which the novel is analyzed. First, the unique adoption of narrative focalizations by Morrison is analyzed. In the first chapter, through external focalization in which the story is narrated from the perspective that is external to the story, the suppression of black women from their traditional roles and the black people begin to fight against their own rights are revealed. In the second chapter, through internal focalization in which the story is narrated from the perspective that is internal to the story, Nel and Sula’s realization of their own female roles and the black community’s traditional attitudes towards black females are revealed. The narrative voice refers to the expressed opinions and viewpoints which are women-centered according to the definition of feminist narratology. And it is analyzed in two aspects, authorial voice and communal voice. In the third chapter, authorial voice helps Morrison achieve her authority as a black female writer, as the narrator can manipulate the plots and structure of the novel. And in the fourth chapter, through the narration with communal voice, the suppressed voice of black females is strengthened, as they speak in the form of a group. And the suppression of all black people is heard too.

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