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Love Theme in “Paradise” by Toni Morrison


The novel Paradise was written in 1997, and it was Morrison’s first book after winning the Nobel Prize in literature in 1993. Paradise stresses the affection of God, and it is the author’s third novel focusing on various kinds of love. All the chapters in the book are dedicated to specific characters, allowing them to air their views. Morrison tells two parallel stories, one in Ruby and Haven, and another in the Convent. One of the protagonists who assist in developing the author’s themes is Ruby Steward (Morrison 33). For every material that Steward gets, he sacrifices something of more value without his realization.

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The Determination of Steward

Steward and Deacon witness much discrimination against the Blacks as well as racial prejudice in Haven, which is the place they call home. Determined to continue the mission of self-sufficiency which was started by their parents, they depart from Haven with a group of 15 people to begin a new town for the black people only. The men led by Steward leave with the oven because they regard it as the most valuable item in comparison with other objects. They painstakingly build the town, although it is for symbolic and not practical purposes (Morrison 55). The town is eventually named Ruby after the name of Morgan’s sister who died because of being denied medical attention due to racial discrimination.

Steward’s Tribulations

Steward Morgan, who is one of the major characters, is undergoing one misery after another because of the mysterious damages he is experiencing. He owns a bank together with his brother Deacon but the benefits of the financial institution are less than the bitter losses he is getting. Steward is faced with several issues: firstly, he marries Dovey, but they are unable to bear children. Secondly, he continues to experience problems during his entire life, because, irrespective of his achievements in material gains, he is not regarded as the head of the family; rather the Morgans are the ones who are given that responsibility. Steward continues to suffer untold miseries despite his relative material acquisition. He continues to be alienated from his family members due to the events caused by the attack, and their divergent attitudes towards the events leading to the raid (Morrison 57). However, of the two brothers, Steward is the most outspoken because he articulates his issues openly without fear. The more Steward is blessed materially, the less connected he becomes to the natural world leaving him in a state of desperation. He loses several things in his life including his taste buds, hair, and the trees on his land, which leaves him devastated. Steward is in total anguish because he has broken linkage to the land which his ancestors desired to own freely (Morrison 59). He has completely been disconnected from God because he is not accustomed to the realities of nature. Steward loses his sense of taste because of chewing tobacco for many decades. His wife is in deep reflection of the things they have forfeited since they got married; which gives her great pain because that was not her expectation when they began living together. According to her assessment, the more the husband gains in terms of money, the more he is subjected to visible complications. Every time Steward gets something extra in his life, the wife thinks that he will fail in something else which is more important than the one that is achieved (Morrison 63). The discovery that they would not be able to have children in their lives is the biggest harm that will never be erased from her mind. Steward and his wife are traumatized by life, and they are left with psychological injuries that hamper them from being tolerant of trusting anybody. When Steward makes a handsome real estate deal that would bring much money, Dovey feels that the husband is going to lose the battle with Reverend Misner of a slogan that was attached to the oven. The problem that Steward and Morgan cannot have children is compounded by the death of Soane and Deek’s sons at war leaving the family without any imminent heir. Steward and Deacon are the epitomai of a unified authority because they share the common purpose and belief until the murder which took place in July leading to their division (Morrison 68). Each of them interprets the words described in the holy oven based on their relationship with the oven originator.

Dovey’s Insights and Approaches

Motherhood is one of the central themes in the novel as portrayed by most of the female characters in the book. Dovey searches for parental care, freedom, love, and peace despite the challenges she is undergoing in her family. She is fighting for the Haven of women where they are not prisoners of patriarchy which had permeated every aspect of the society. She is one of the women who are clamoring for equality irrespective of one’s color or race, and she does not possess any ideals of only material gains. She believes that, as the acquisition of wealth is important, there should be a balance between the spiritual and material things (Morrison 70). She develops this belief after realizing how her husband is gaining material wealth but trailing in other aspects because he has lost connection with nature. Dovey believes that one can only be successful if one creates a balance between the visible and invisible worlds, which represent the things that can be seen and the ones that cannot. She is convinced that the tribulation her husband is going through is because of not creating a balance between those issues. She is also of the opinion that spiritual matters are as important as cultural ones. That is the reason she is concerned that her husband will disagree with Reverend Misner because they represent two contrary views. She tries to reconcile them through the comments she makes when she is referring to the problems her husband is undergoing (Morrison 73). Dovey seems to be a woman of insight who is not corrupted by the cultural issues that are dear to her husband. Dovey Morgan is utterly worried about the future of her town as well as the fate of her husband regarding the series of losses he is incurring. It demonstrates that she was happier at the time she was married but after sometimes family problems increased. She cannot help thinking about the difficulties her husband has been experiencing ranging from the loss of hair on his head, taste, and land. She is aware that their inability to have children is due to her husband but she is not ready to confront him over the issue. Dovey thinks deeply about Ruby and the problems the town has been confronting in recent times. She peruses the list of individuals: the drunkards in town, the unruly teenagers, and the daughters who do not respect their mothers (Morrison 88). All these issues disturb her immensely, and she is not settled at all as she tries to find a solution. The two main characters, Steward and Dovey, undergo untold misery in their marriage lives because of their divergent views regarding life. However, both converge on the fact that all people should be treated equally irrespective of their color or race. Steward has tried his best to ensure that he lives according to the desires of his ancestors but, he is encountering problems that have thwarted his desire.

Work Cited

Morrison, Toni. Paradise. Vintage Books. 1997

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