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Toni Morrison quotes (showing 61-90 of 755)

“If you're going to hold someone down you're going to have to hold on by the other end of the chain. You are confined by your own repression.”
Toni Morrison
“Let me tell you something. A man ain’t a goddamn ax. Chopping, hacking, busting every goddamn minute of the day. Things get to him. Things he can’t chop down because they’re inside.”
Toni Morrison, Beloved
“the hopelessness that comes from knowing too little and feeling too much (so brittle, so dry he is in danger of the reverse: feeling nothing and knowing everything)”
Toni Morrison, Jazz
“Writing is really a way of thinking--not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet.”
Toni Morrison
“She learned the intricacy of loneliness: the horror of color, the roar of soundlessness and the menace of familiar objects lying still.”
Toni Morrison, A Mercy
“What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want it?”
Toni Morrison, Jazz
“To be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing.”
Toni Morrison, A Mercy
“And talking about dark! You think dark is just one color, but it ain't. There're five or six kinds of black. Some silky, some woolly. Some just empty. Some like fingers. And it don't stay still, it moves and changes from one kind of black to another. Saying something is pitch black is like saying something is green. What kind of green? Green like my bottles? Green like a grasshopper? Green like a cucumber, lettuce, or green like the sky is just before it breaks loose to storm? Well, night black is the same way. May as well be a rainbow.”
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
“Beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do.”
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
“See? See what you can do? Never mind you can’t tell one letter from another, never mind you born a slave, never mind you lose your name, never mind your daddy dead, never mind nothing. Here, this here, is what a man can do if he puts his mind to it and his back in it. Stop sniveling,’ [the land] said. ‘Stop picking around the edges of the world. Take advantage, and if you can’t take advantage, take disadvantage. We live here. On this planet, in this nation, in this county right here. Nowhere else! We got a home in this rock, don’t you see! Nobody starving in my home; nobody crying in my home, and if I got a home you got one too! Grab it. Grab this land! Take it, hold it, my brothers, make it, my brothers, shake it, squeeze it, turn it, twist it, beat it, kick it, kiss it, whip it, stomp it, dig it, plow it, seed it, reap it, rent it, buy it, sell it, own it, build it, multiply it, and pass it on – can you hear me? Pass it on!”
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
“Black literature is taught as sociology, as tolerance, not as a serious, rigorous art form.”
Toni Morrison
“Today is always here,' said Sethe. 'Tomorrow, never.”
Toni Morrison, Beloved
“The presence of evil was something to be first recognized, then dealt with, survived, outwitted, triumphed over.”
Toni Morrison, Sula
“The systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, mid-wifery properties for menace and subjugation. Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux-language of mindless media; whether it is the proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity driven language of science; whether it is the malign language of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek - it must be rejected, altered and exposed. It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind. Sexist language, racist language, theistic language - all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.
- Toni Morrison, Nobel Lecture, 1993”
Toni Morrison, The Nobel Lecture In Literature, 1993
“I don't think a female running a house is a problem, a broken family. It's perceived as one because of the notion that a head is a man. ”
Toni Morrison
“It sounded old. Deserve. Old and tired and beaten to death. Deserve. Now it seemed to him that he was always saying or thinking that he didn't deserve some bad luck, or some bad treatment from others. He'd told Guitar that he didn't "deserve" his family's dependence, hatred, or whatever. That he didn't even "deserve" to hear all the misery and mutual accusations his parents unloaded on him. Nor did he "deserve" Hagar's vengeance. But why shouldn't his parents tell him their personal problems? If not him, then who? And if a stranger could try to kill him, surely Hagar, who knew him and whom he'd thrown away like a wad of chewing gum after the flavor was gone––she had a right to try to kill him too.

Apparently he though he deserved only to be loved--from a distance, though--and given what he wanted. And in return he would be...what? Pleasant? Generous? Maybe all he was really saying was: I am not responsible for your pain; share your happiness with me but not your unhappiness.”
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
“You looked at them and wondered why they were so ugly; you looked closely and could not find the source. Then you realized that it came from conviction, their conviction. It was as though some mysterious all-knowing master had given each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had each accepted it without question.”
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
“But to find out the truth about how dreams die, one should never take the word of the dreamer.”
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
“But the picking out, the choosing. Don't ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn't fall in love, I rose in it. I saw you and made up my mind. My mind.”
Toni Morrison, Jazz
“In fact her maturity and blood kinship converted her passion to fever, so it was more affliction than affection. It literally knocked her down at night, and raised her up in the morning, for when she dragged herself off to bed, having spent another day without his presence, her heart beat like a gloved fist against her ribs. And in the morning, long before she was fully awake, she felt a longing so bitter and tight it yanked her out of a sleep swept clean of dreams.”
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
“When you gone to get married? You need to have some babies. It’ll settle you.'
'I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself.”
Toni Morrison, Sula
“Was it hard? I hope she didn't die hard.'

Sethe shook her head. 'Soft as cream. Being alive was the hard part.”
Toni Morrison, Beloved
tags: death
“There in the center of that silence was not eternity but the death of time and a loneliness so profound the word itself had no meaning. ”
Toni Morrison, Sula
“I didn't plan on either children or writing. Once I realized that writing satisfied me in some enormous way, I had to make adjustments. The writing was always marginal in terms of time when the children were small. But it was major in terms of my head. I always thought that women could do a lot of things. All the women I knew did nine or ten things at one time. I always understood that women worked, they went to church, they managed their houses, they managed somebody else's houses, they raised their children, they raised somebody else's children, they taught. I wouldn't say it's not hard, but why wouldn't it be? All important things are hard.”
Toni Morrison
“And fantasy it was, for we were not strong, only aggressive; we were not free, merely licensed; we were not compassionate, we were polite; not good, but well behaved. We courted death in order to call ourselves brave, and hid like thieves from life. We substituted good grammar for intellect; we switched habits to simulate maturity; we rearranged lies and called it truth, seeing in the new pattern of an old idea the Revelation and the Word.”
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
“guileless and without vanity,we were still in love with ourselves then. We felt comfortable in our own skins, enjoyed the news that our senses released to us, admired our dirt, cultivated our scars, and could not comprehend this unworthiness.”
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
“I don't think anybody cares about unwed mothers unless they're black or poor. The question is not morality, the question is money. That's what we're upset about.”
Toni Morrison
“At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don't need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens — that letting go — you let go because you can.”
Toni Morrison, Tar Baby
“Sunk in the grass of an empty lot on a spring Saturday, I split the stems of milkweed and thought about ants and peach pits and death and where the world went when I closed my eyes.”
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
“She had been looking all along for a friend, and it took her a while to discover that a lover was not a comrade and could never be - for a woman. And that no one would ever be that version of herself which she sought to reach out to and touch with an ungloved hand. There was only her own mood and whim, and if that was all there was, she decided to turn the naked hand toward it, discover it and let others become as intimate with their own selves as she was.”
Toni Morrison, Sula


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