Akofena (Jun 2024)

From Metaphorical Death to the Grave: The Pathos of the Dilemma of the Black Being in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Ernest J. Gaines’ The Tragedy of Brady Sims


Journal volume & issue
Vol. 05, no. 012


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Abstract: The present paper sketches the oscillation of the Black Americans’ mindset between the two unites of a binary opposition; life/death. In the novels understudy, Toni Morrison and Ernest J. Gaines present black characters who, so disgusted by nasty life choose death as sure-fire way to salvation. Going from the premise that, life constitutes the first potentiality in man, the study investigates the rationale behind this paradoxical choice. It is somehow a pathology of the syndrome of decay that pervades the mind of the black being. It seeks to show that the odd choice of death to the detriment of life is perceived as a nondesire as well as a desire in these fictions. To this end, it leans on a postmodern framework. Postmodernism is a critical theory that constantly questions and give voice to the unvoiced. The paper also delineate a clear cut line between metaphorical death that is actually a life devoid of sense and death as cessation of life followed by funerals, burial, disintegration and decay of the body. The metaphorical death of the black being is portrayed as a marginalization in the society in the light of concepts such as Orlando Patterson’s ‘social death’, Calvin L. Warren’s ‘metaphysical holocaust’, Fred Moten’s ‘nothingness’ and what Bryan Wagner accurately terms ‘existence without standpoint’, each of them signifying a form of social exclusion. Keywords: Death, living death, nothingness, marginalization