The Value of Innocence in Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child
Keywords:Toni Morrison, God Help the Child, innocence, childhood, parenthood, trauma
The essay examines the value of innocence in Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child with a focus on the representation of childhood. While innocence is generally considered to be inherent in little children, the essay shows that it is all but a fantasy for Morrison’s youngest protagonists, who enter the world of adulthood prematurely as they are exposed to racial and sexual abuse. However, while Morrison’s earlier works arguably framed the myth of the fall from innocence into experience as a fortunate fall into (self-)knowledge, and refashioned innocence as sin, in God Help the Child Morrison appears to have taken a more ambiguous approach. The powerful motif is inverted yet again, but this time Morrison challenges both the moral and the chronological paradigms of the fall as she examines the possibilities of moving in both directions, from innocence to experience and back.
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