Edmund Haskins
Blurring the Boundaries: A Study of Toni Morrison’s Postmodern Use of the Binary

In this research paper, it was essential to delineate the meaning of the term “Postmodern.” In short summary, a Postmodern text is one in which the author writes under the assertion that it is difficult to find a singular meaning within the body of the text. It is most likely that there exist many meanings within the text, and that all are equally legitimate. Moreover, it is most likely the case that meaning is always changing and in flux, thus it becomes difficult to pin down or define because it is always in transition. The main aspect of the Postmodern that I concentrate on in this paper is the idea of the binary. A binary exists in a situation in which there are two interpretations of an issue; one interpretation is regarded in a positive light while the other in the negative. In this study, I have concentrated on Morrison’s use of this binary in five of her novels: The Bluest Eye, Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, and Paradise. As each novel progresses, Morrison’s use of the binary grows more complicated. In her first novel, The Bluest Eye, Morrison concentrates on the binary of superficial skin color and its implications of beauty versus ugliness. Jazz, written much later in her career, concentrates on the changing of perspective and the idea of meaning existing in transition. The binary in this novel exists in the stagnant versus the in flux meaning. My main idea in writing this paper was to discern Morrison’s use of the binary and her motivation for doing so.