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Study on the Inferiority Feelings in A Mercy

Author: YangYang
Tutor: GuanHeFeng
School: Henan University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: Toni Morrison A Mercy inferiority feelings compensation transcendence
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 171
Quote: 2
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As the first African-American woman who won the Nobel Prize for literature, Toni Morrison has always been yelling and fighting on the miserable position of the black people, especially the black women. Apart from the racial discrimination as her previous novels, her latest novel A Mercy (2008) transcends the race and sex, and puts concern on all the people under the slavery system. Under the oppression of slavery, people suffer not only physical affliction but also spiritual torture. Being abandoned by parents and discriminated by the society, people under slavery are entrapped into the inferiority feelings. They try to escape the inferiority feelings by all means. However, according to Alfred Adler, without social interest, the efforts they have made gain no improvement. On the contrary, their inferiority feelings grow more serious. Only with the social interest and the devotion to making contribution to others and the society, can people transcend the inferiority feelings with their self-value fulfilled. This thesis tries to analyze the inferiority feelings of the characters in A Mercy according to Alfred Adler’s inferiority theory to prove that the self-accomplishment builds on the love that people give instead of the love they ask for.Apart from Introduction and Conclusion, this thesis is divided into three parts.Introduction presents a brief description of Toni Morrison’s life experience, her novel A Mercy, and the literature reviews. Besides, Alfred Adler’s inferiority-compensation- transcendence theory is briefly introduced.Chapter One describes origins of the inferiority feelings from the aspects of the parental and social environment factors. The parents living under slavery system are forced to abandon their children to keep their own life and the children grow up without parental love. With no love and warmth from family, the children are left in great shadow of being abandoned. Besides, the society has paid no concern for those miserable people. What they get is just the discrimination and neglect. What they can do to surpass the solitary feelings is just to lock their hearts firmly to keep the hurt away.Chapter Two elaborates compensations that the characters have made to get rid of their inferiority feelings. They have transformed the drive toward above into different directions to make compensations of the inferiority feelings: the direction of the drive to one’s own person which includes Florens’asking for love from others and Sorrow’s sealing herself off; the displacement of the drive to another goal which contains Lina’s love to Florens, Willard and Scully’s change of sexual orientation and Jacob’s devotion to a grand house; and the transformation of the drive into its opposite which elaborates Rebekka’s change of personality after all the frustrations she has experienced. What they have done to make compensations to their inferiorities has just driven them to the much deeper inferiority feelings.Chapter Three describes the transcendence of the inferiority feelings by building the social interest and feeling valuable to the others. After the bitter love which she devotes to the blacksmith, Florens has grown up and been mature enough to be able to confront the nightmares of her mother’s abandonment, and her inferiority feelings have been transcended. As a mother Sorrow decides to protect her little girl by her own power. As she finds her own value in life, she returns to the society other than living in her imaginary world.Conclusion generalizes the suffering of the people living under the slavery system and points out that the slavery system has made people slaves in heart and the compensations they made to feel superior are just useless. What they need to transcend their inferiority feelings is to obtain the approval of the society and the self-accomplishment by being beneficial to the society.

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