Pain, hunger, and birth of epiphany in the novels of Toni Morrison
D'Imperio, Cristina Maria
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The thesis, entitled The Pain, Hunger, and Birth of Epiphany in the Novels of Toni Morrison, is divided into three chapters. The introduction discusses some of the traditional uses of the word “epiphany” in literature and then proceeds to define the ways in which Morrison’s characters experience epiphanical journeys. Furthermore, Morrison’s development of the idea plays a fundamental role in the structure and unification of all of her novels. The first chapter compares the texts Love and Sula and charts the progression of pain from external, communal, and inherited to internal, individual, and isolationist. In both Love and Sula, death and the body are irrelevant, and it is only when characters learn to dispel pain and disregard the body that they can truly experience an epiphany. Chapter two discusses Paradise in detail and describes the role of food in allowing or preventing characters’ spiritual awakenings or transcendence. Food and the way it is consumed, prepared, grown, and perceived are inextricably linked to characters’ journeys to epiphany. The third chapter compares the novels Jazz and Song of Solomon and illustrates the ways in which perceptions of pain and food are translated to younger generations. It also raises questions of generational sterility and degeneration as well as conveys ideas of stunted or aborted growth and truncated epiphanies.