A literary study of power relations between ruby and the convent in Toni Morrison's novel, Paradise
This study is an exploration of the power relations in Toni Morrison's Paradise. This research analyses the power relations between Ruby and the Convent bringing out their effects on the characters in the novel Paradise. It also delineates the factors that influence the exercise of power and authority in the novel. The metanarrative discourses that have influenced the events and the characters in the novel are studied with a view to determining the influence of the prevailing discourses in Morrison's work. Using New Historicism as the method and theory of analysis, this study examines power as not emanating from one central position, but as an aspect of society that is present in all areas of life. Foucault's views on power guide the study. According to Foucault, power passes through both the dominated and the dominating. The interplay of different discourses in Ruby and how victims of power relations oppose these relations is established. The effects of the opposition on the victimizers are noted. The ideas of Dr. Martin Luther King and Booker T. Washington underpin the characters of Reverend Misner and Steward Morgan respectively. The tension that informs their relationship can be read as generational, but it is developed as an interactive interplay between text and historical context. Slavery has had a profound impact on the African American psyche. Relevant information on slavery, emancipation and the Civil Rights Movement is analysed to establish its influence on the events and characters in Paradise. Using her interpretation of these important events, Morrison tilts power relations in favour of the African American, in a bid to enable him to survive under difficult circumstances. Morrison's vision for the blacks in America, as brought out in Paradise, forms the conclusion of the work. She desires that different races of America learn to live with each other, avoiding making judgements about each other on the basis of colour and gender. America should revisit its founding history so as to uproot racism by the roots and accept change and diversity.