Date of Award

Summer 1994

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Charles E. Wilson

Committee Member

Janis Sanchez-Hucles


This Master's thesis consists of three chapters that examine the roles, circumstances and effects of racism and sexism on the black female characters in three of Toni Morrison's novels, Beloved, Sula and Jazz. I propose that the elements of racism and sexism have left the female characters, Sethe, Denver, Ella, etc. in Beloved with few choices in life. Further, I suggest that the theme of "choice versus no choice" perpetuates hatred and self-hatred among black women and results in "metaphoric scarring." I explore in the characters, Sula, Eva, Hannah, Nel, and the black Bottom women, the damage inflicted on black women in the novel Sula. Consequently, the patterns of blatant racism, subtle racism and sexism demand some form of intervention to heal these black women. The theme of healing is the ideal undergirding reconciliation in the novel Jazz.

A version of "Reconciliation in Toni Morrison's Jazz" was presented at the Works-In-Progress Conference at Old Dominion University in May, 1994. A modification of this same chapter was presented at the Mid-Atlantic Writer's Association Conference in October, 1992. A variant of "Choice versus No Choice" was presented at the First Annual Old Dominion University Graduate Conference in 1993.


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